Aging and qualitative characteristics of memories for perceived and imagined complex events

Psychol Aging. 1990 Mar;5(1):119-26. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.5.1.119.


Older and younger adults' memory for perceived and imagined events was examined with a procedure in which everyday situations are simulated in the laboratory. Subjects perceived some situations and imagined others. Later, they were asked to rate their memory for various aspects of these situations (e.g., amount of perceptual detail, thoughts and feelings). A recall test followed the ratings. On the rating scale, for both perceived and imagined events, older subjects reported better memory for their thoughts and feelings than did younger subjects. In addition, on the recall test, older subjects produced more thoughts and feelings than did younger subjects, whereas younger subjects produced more perceptual and spatial information. These results suggest that older subjects may not inhibit personal information (e.g., thoughts and feelings), and this information may interfere with memory for other aspects of information, such as perceptual and contextual details (Hasher & Zacks, 1988).

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination / physiology*
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception / physiology*