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Study: Our Best, Most Important Memories Are Made Before Age 25

DURHAM, N.H. (UPI) — Most people make the most important memories of their lives by age 25, involving life transitions such as marriage and having children, U.S. researchers say.

Psychologists at the University of New Hampshire report they found when older adults were asked to tell their life stories, they overwhelmingly highlighted the central influence of those transitions in their memories occurring early in their lives.

“When people look back over their lives and recount their most important memories, most divide their life stories into chapters defined by important moments that are universal for many: a physical move, attending college, a first job, marriage, military experience, and having children,” UNH psychology doctoral student Kristina Steiner said.

Researchers who spoke with 34 members of an active retirement community, ages 59 to 92, said they found a pronounced “reminiscence bump” between ages 17 and 24, when many memories, positive and negative, expected and unexpected, are recalled by people later in life.

Many people focus on memories that define chapters of their life story beginning and ending during those years, the researchers said.

“Many studies have consistently found that when adults are asked to think about their lives and report memories, remembered events occurring between the ages of 15 to 30 are over-represented,” Steiner, who studies autobiographical memory, said.

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