The intricately interwoven role of detailed autobiographical memory in our daily lives and in our imaginative envisioning of the future is increasingly recognized. But how is the detail-rich nature of autobiographical memory best assessed and, in particular, how can possible aging-related differences in autobiographical memory specificity be most effectively evaluated? This study examined whether a modified interview, involving fewer and time-matched events for older and younger adults, yielded age-related outcomes similar to those that have been previously reported. As in earlier studies, modest age-related changes in the specificity of autobiographical recall were observed, yet the largest most robust effect for both age groups was the substantial proportion of specific details retrieved. Both age groups rated recent memories as significantly less important and as less emotional than more temporally distant events. Our findings counter conceptions of older adults' autobiographical memories as invariably less episodically rich than those of younger adults.
- Memory specificity
- Semantic memory