The tracks of my years: personal significance contributes to the reminiscence bump

Clare Rathbone, Akira Robert O'Connor, Chris Moulin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Two studies investigated the role of the self in the reminiscence bump (heightened retrieval for events from young adulthood). Participants over the age of 40 were presented with top-grossing films and songs, and were asked to select the five that were most personally significant. Study 1 produced reminiscence bumps for personally significant songs, when measured by both participants’ age at release (AaR) and age when songs were reported as most important (AaI). This effect was not shown for films. In Study 2, participants again selected their personally significant songs but also rated all songs for whether they were known, remembered (e.g., associated with an episodic memory), or not known. Personally significant songs were significantly more likely to be associated with episodic memories, compared to personally non-significant songs. Again, only personally significant songs formed a reminiscence bump. Findings underline a critical role of personal significance in the reminiscence bump, which we argue is consistent with the formation of identity in this lifetime period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-150
Number of pages14
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number1
Early online date26 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • Autobiographical memory
  • Self
  • Identity
  • Episodic memory
  • Remember/Know


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