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Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2016 Apr 1;25(2):135-149.

Recent Advances in Understanding the Reminiscence Bump: The Importance of Cues in Guiding Recall from Autobiographical Memory.

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Center on Autobiographical Memory Research, Aarhus University.
Duke University; Center on Autobiographical Memory Research, Aarhus University.


The reminiscence bump is the increased proportion of autobiographical memories from youth and early adulthood observed in adults over 40. It is one of the most robust findings in autobiographical memory research. Although described as a single period of increased memories, a recent meta-analysis which reported the beginning and ending ages of the bump from individual studies found that different classes of cues produce distinct bumps that vary in size and temporal location. The bump obtained in response to cue words is both smaller and located earlier in the lifespan than the bump obtained when important memories are requested. The bump obtained in response to odor cues is even earlier. This variation in the size and location of the reminiscence bump argues for theories based primarily on retrieval rather than encoding and retention, which most current theories stress. Furthermore, it points to the need to develop theories of autobiographical memory that account for this flexibility in the memories retrieved.


autobiographical memory; cuing; important memories; olfaction; reminiscence bump; word-cued memories

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