Distribution of important and word-cued autobiographical memories in 20-, 35-, and 70-year-old adults.

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For word-cued autobiographical memories, older adults had an increase, or bump, from the ages 10 to 30. All age groups had fewer memories from childhood than from other years and a power-function retention for memories from the most recent 10 years. There were no consistent differences in reaction times and rating scale responses across decades. Concrete words cued older memories, but no property of the cues predicted which memories would come from the bump. The 5 most important memories given by 20- and 35-year-old participants were distributed similarly to their word-cued memories, but those given by 70-year-old participants came mostly from the single 20-to-30 decade. No theory fully accounts for the bump.







David C. Rubin

Juanita M. Kreps Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

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My main research interest has been in long-term memory, especially for complex (or "real-world") stimuli. This work includes the study of autobiographical memory and oral traditions, as well as prose. I have also studied memory as it is more commonly done in experimental psychology laboratories using lists. In addition to this purely behavioral research, which I plan to continue, I work on memory in clinical populations with the aid of a National Institute of Mental Health grant to study PTSD and on the underlying neural basis of memory the aid of a National Institute of Aging grant to study autobiographical memory using fMRI.

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