By the time people reach a certain age, they've accumulated enough life experience to have plenty of stories to tell about life "back in their day."
However, a new study suggests that the older a person is, the less likely they are to share memories of their past experiences. And when they do share memories, they don't describe them in as much detail as younger people do.
The results of the study, conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona and published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, echo previous findings from lab-based research suggesting that memory sharing declines with age.
The UArizona study came to the conclusion in a new way: by "eavesdropping" on older adults' conversations "in the wild."
Most research on memory takes place in a laboratory setting, where participants often are asked to memorize lists or recall and describe specific memories from the past. The UArizona researchers wanted to know how often older adults spontaneously bring up memories in the course of their daily conversations – outside of a controlled laboratory setting.
"This study really gives us one of the first glimpses of people sharing these memories in their day-to-day life," said senior study author Matthew Grilli, an assistant professor in the UArizona Department of Psychology