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The cue-dependency of the “reminiscence bumps” in autobiographical memory and memory for public events: what they reveal about memory organization

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

The reminiscence bump most commonly refers to the disproportionate number of autobiographical memories, in adults aged ≥40 years, dating from youth and early adulthood. Whereas the bump in autobiographical memory has primarily been studied by psychologists, it has been paralleled in the sociology literature in a spike in recall for public events that occurred at a similar period of the lifespan. This chapter reviews findings illustrating that the temporal location of the bump (in autobiographical memory) and the frequency with which it is found (in memory for public events) vary according to the cueing method used to elicit the memories. For instance, in autobiographical memory, the bump is earlier when memories are elicited through cue words than when memories are elicited through requests for important memories. In memory for public events, the bump is more frequently attained when recall is tested through open-ended recall than when it is tested through knowledge tests. It is argued that these findings indicate that retrieval processes play a large role in the bump in each domain, and therefore challenge most existing theoretical accounts, which stress encoding processes. The relevant retrieval processes in each domain are then discussed. Finally, the implications of the reviewed findings, in particular those concerning autobiographical memory, are discussed as they relate to models of the organization of autobiographical memory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Organization and Structure of Autobiographical Memory
EditorsJohn Mace
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198784845
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019

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