I remember it like it was yesterday: Age-related differences in the subjective experience of remembering.


It has been frequently described that older adults subjectively report the vividness of their memories as being as high, or even higher, than young adults, despite poorer objective memory performance. Here, we review studies that examined age-related differences in the subjective experience of memory vividness. By examining vividness calibration and resolution, studies using different types of approaches converge to suggest that older adults overestimate the intensity of their vividness ratings relative to young adults, and that they rely on retrieved memory details to a lesser extent to judge vividness. We discuss potential mechanisms underlying these observations. Inflation of memory vividness with regard to the richness of memory content may stem from age-differences in vividness criterion or scale interpretation and psycho-social factors. The reduced reliance on episodic memory details in older adults may stem from age-related differences in how they monitor these details to make their vividness ratings. Considered together, these findings emphasize the importance of examining age-differences in memory vividness using different analytical methods and they provide valuable evidence that the subjective experience of remembering is more than the reactivation of memory content. In this vein, we recommend that future studies explore the links between memory vividness and other subjective memory scales (e.g., ratings of details or memory confidence) in healthy aging and/or other populations, as it could be used as a window to better characterize the cognitive processes that underpin the subjective assessment of the quality of recollected events.