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A cross-sectional study of reminiscence bumps for music-related memories in adulthood.

Jakubowski, Kelly and Eerola, Tuomas and Tillmann, Barbara and Perrin, Fabien and Heine, Lizette (2020) 'A cross-sectional study of reminiscence bumps for music-related memories in adulthood.', Music & science., 3 .


Music is often intimately linked to identity, as evidenced by the high value many people place on musical activities and the way in which music can become seemingly effortlessly coupled to important memories from throughout one’s lifespan. Previous research has revealed a consistent reminiscence bump in autobiographical memory—the disproportionate recall of memories from between ages 10 to 30 years in comparison with other lifetime periods—which also appears to extend to music-related memories. The present study represents one of the largest explorations of the musical reminiscence bump across adulthood to date. Participants (N = 470; ages 18 to 82 years) were shown the titles and artists of 111 popular songs that had featured in the charts between 1950 and 2015 and rated the degree to which they had autobiographical memories associated with each song, as well as the degree to which they were familiar with and liked the song. We found a reminiscence bump in adolescence (peaking around age 14) for both ratings of the autobiographical salience of songs featured in the charts during that period and the familiarity of these songs. Liking ratings showed more divergent results depending on a participant’s current age, including evidence for a cascading reminiscence bump, in which liking ratings from young adults increased for music from their parents’ adolescent years. We also revealed new evidence that music-related autobiographical memories appear to invoke similar retrieval processes to the common methodology of eliciting autobiographical memories via word cues. We contextualize these results in relation to general theoretical accounts of the reminiscence bump, and age-related differences in the bump are discussed in relation to various sociocultural and technological changes in music listening habits.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement: article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:05 November 2020
Date of first online publication:23 October 2020
Date first made open access:05 November 2020

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