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