Take a moment and think back to one of your most memorable race days. It could have been a favourite horse, a winning bet or a day when everything you touched turned to gold. Now consider this...is that memory retrieved from a period when you were aged 10 to 30 years? This phenomenon is known by psychologists as the reminiscence bump. It is distinguished by an increase in recall of memories relative to memories that precedes it and those that follow. There have been dozens of studies leading to researcher David Rubin to say: ''It is one of the most reliable empirical observations in cognitive psychology.'' Interestingly, the reminiscence bump may be observed in different types of autobiographical knowledge. Sehulster (1996) noted recall of films, while other researchers highlighted books, music & public events. Rubin et al., (1998) indicated that these memories are more accurate & important than memories from other time periods and rated highly likely to be included in one's autobiography. So the next time you are talking to middle-aged or older adults about horse racing stories don't be surprised if they fall within this golden age of memories. Most typically, the period of 10 -25 years of age.
The reminiscence bump is not dominated by first time experiences but idiosyncratic experiences to individual rememberers. However, contrary to earlier research, Holmes & Conway (1999) suggested that such memories are not more vivid (the idea that memory encoding is at its peak efficiency during this period). These memories are not always of pleasant experiences. The key aspect is that no special effort is made to recall them. A more complex explanation was given by Rubin (2002). He hypothesized that ''Events from the bump period are remembered best because they occur when rapid change is giving way to relative stability that lasts at least until retrieval''. In essence, these novel experiences more fully engage encoding processes and become highly accessible. Fitzgerald (1988) proposed that many memories are of self-defining experiences.
What is your horse racing reminiscence bump?