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Autobiographical Across the Lifespan     4     

aging has on remembering events from one’s past, prospective memory will not be explored beyond this point.

Accordingly, retrospective memory is an important concept to understand.  Schroots et al. (2004) define retrospective autobiographical memory as the ability to retrieve certain memories, experiences, or past events in the present time. Retrospective autobiographical memories would include things such as, learning how to ride a bike, one’s first job interview, and having a child.

In addition to episodic autobiographical memory other researchers have started to identify a semantic category of autobiographical memory. Piolino, Desgranges, Benali, and Eustache (2002) note that the episodic component of autobiographical memory contains memories of specific events across time from a person’s like (e.g., graduation), while the semantic component of autobiographical memory consists of general information about a person’s past (e.g. name of a person’s high school, friends from college).

Why is Autobiographical Memory Important

Examining autobiographical memory across the lifespan has many implications for intelligence.  Most notably is the debate about exactly what intelligence is.  In many respects intelligence has been described as an ability to adapt.  Autobiographical memories allow humans to do just that across the lifespan (Alea & Bluck, 2003). These researchers believe that viewing autobiographical memory across the lifespan will help understand how changes in age will require the retrieval of autobiographical memories that will help people adapt to their new life circumstances.

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