Autobiographical memory research has shown that, for the most part, the retention function for personal memories strongly resembles the retention function identified in laboratory research. However, there appears to be a reminiscence component in the retention functions of older adults. This reminiscence component is defined as an overrepresentation of memories from the adolescent and early adult years in the autobiographical memories of older adults. The data of two recent studies are examined in an attempt to develop an explanation for this phenomenon. The pattern of results strongly suggests that reminiscence effects reflect the availability of a pool of vivid memories from this era. Possible explanations for the presence of this pool are explored, including the hypothesis that memories from this era are more likely to be involved in a self narrative, a contextualized view of the self composed of stories and tales rather than traits and social roles.

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