Autobiographical memory from a life span perspective

J.J.F. Schroots, C. van Dijkum, M.H.J. Assink

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This comparative study (i.e., three age groups, three measures) explores the distribution of retrospective and prospective autobiographical memory data across the lifespan, in particular the bump pattern of disproportionally higher recall of memories from the ages 10 to 30, as generally observed in older age groups, in conjunction with the well-known recency effect. The memory data patterns of the Life-line Interview Method (LIM, the measure of this study, were compared to the published data patterns of two other memory measures (i.e., the Time Line and Life event sorting task). The results of this comparative study confirm the universality of the bump for older adults, as well as the recency effect. From the LIM data patterns it is hypothesized that both bump and recency effects play a part not only in middle-aged and older adults but also in younger people. In search for an explanation of these patterns, a theoretical outline is presented for the study of autobiographical memory as a dynamic system of both retrospective and prospective memory, subject to continuous changes across the lifespan.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-85
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Aging and Human Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2004


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