Understanding the reminiscence bump: A systematic review

Khadeeja Munawar, Sara K. Kuhn, Shamsul Haque

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


One of the most consistently observed phenomena in autobiographical memory research is the reminiscence bump: a tendency for middle-aged and elderly people to access more personal memories from approximately 10–30 years of age. This systematic review (PROSPERO 2017:CRD42017076695) aimed to synthesize peer-reviewed literature pertaining to the reminiscence bump. The researchers conducted searches in nine databases for studies published between the date of inception of each database and the year 2017. Keywords used included: reminiscence, bump, peak, surge, blip, reminiscence effect, and reminiscence component. Sixty-eight quantitative studies, out of 523, met the inclusion criteria. The researchers implemented a thematic analytic technique for data extraction. Four main themes were generated: methods of memory activation/instruction for life scripts, types of memory/life scripts recalled, location of the reminiscence bump, and theoretical accounts for the bump. The two prevailing methods of memory activation implemented were the cuing method and important memories method. Three types of memories/life scripts were recalled: personal/autobiographical memory, memories for public events, and life script events. The findings illustrate differing temporal periods for the bump: approximately 10–30 years for memories for important events, approximately 5–30 years for memories that were induced by word cues, and 6–39 years for studies using life scripts. In explaining the bump, the narrative/identity account and cultural life script account received the most support.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0208595
Number of pages36
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 11 Dec 2018

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