Recent versus remote: flashbulb memory for 9/11 and self-selected events from the reminiscence bump

Jenny Y. Denver, Departmeny of Psychology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge 70803-5501, USA.
Sean M. Lane
Katie E. Cherry


In two related studies, we examined flashbulb memories acquired from different points in the lifespan in younger and older adults. When asked to remember flashbulb memories from their lives, older adults were most likely to recall events from the reminiscence bump (Study 1A). In Study 1B, younger and older adults recalled 9/11 and a personal flashbulb event that occurred between ages 10 and 30. Older adults' memories of a recent event (9/11) were less likely than younger adults' to be classified as flashbulb memories; however, when memories were examined in their entirety, these age-related declines disappeared. Older adults' memories for a remote flashbulb event appeared to be quite similar, if not more detailed than their memories for the recent event, suggesting that remote flashbulb memories are relatively stable over time. Implications of these data for current views of flashbulb memory in late adulthood are discussed.