Characterizing age-related changes in remembering the past and imagining the future

Psychol Aging. 2011 Mar;26(1):80-4. doi: 10.1037/a0021054.


When remembering past events or imagining possible future events, older adults generate fewer episodic details than do younger adults. These results support the constructive episodic simulation hypothesis: deficits in retrieving episodic details underlie changes during memory and imagination. To examine the extent of this age-related reduction in specificity, we compared performance on memory and imagination tasks to a picture description task that does not require episodic memory. In two experiments, older adults exhibited comparable specificity reductions across all conditions. These findings emphasize the need to consider age-related changes in imagination and memory in a broader theoretical context.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Imagination*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall
  • Young Adult