If your life were to suddenly flash before your eyes, chances are the most vivid and detailed memories would be from your 20s. Experts call it a “reminiscence bump.” They point out that most of us can’t remember anything before our 5th birthday. Then, we have super-vivid memories of events and experiences that happened from about age 16 to age 30. But after age 31, the memories we create start to become much less vivid. And the only memories that are packed with details seem to be the most recent ones.
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why we experience a “reminiscence bump” in our late teens and twenties. But they have several theories:
That’s the time frame when our brains are solidifying. The areas to do with risk, reasoning, planning and controlling impulses doesn’t fully mature until about age 29. And as all these areas of the brain fall into place, it may intensify our memories. Our minds are also the most alert, responsive, and sponge-like at this stage.
That’s the age range when we’re exploring the world – and trying new things. And our brains remember new, first-time experiences better than everyday ones. And there are a lot of “firsts” between 16 and 30 – like first love, first job, and first time living away from home. Face it, by the time we’re 30 and beyond, we may be sitting at the same desk 10 hours a day, 250 days a year!
Experts also say we’re more likely to remember events that helped mold our personality and behavior. Experiences that shaped our views of the world – and help us understand who we are today.
So think about it. Are your favorite songs the ones from your 20s? Can you remember your 25th birthday better than your 35th? It may be because your experiences in your 20s made you who you are today.