Bilingual Autobiographical Memory in Older Adult Immigrants: A Test of Cognitive Explanations of the Reminiscence Bump and the Linguistic Encoding of Memories

Robert W. Schrauf, David C. Rubin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Twelve people who emigrated as adults from Spanish-speaking cultures and then spent at least 30 years in an Anglo culture were asked to provide autobiographical memories to word cues. All communication was in Spanish on one day and English on a second. In previous studies, there has been a bump or increase in autobiographical memories for the 10 to 30 decades. Here the increase in memories followed the age of immigration and settlement, supporting a cognitive theory of the reminiscence bump. The distributions of memories across the lifespan were similar for the Spanish sessions and the English sessions. Participants identified 20% of their memories as recalled internally in the language not being used that day. For this subset of memories, events prior to migration were more frequently recalled in Spanish, whereas events after migration were more frequently recalled in English.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-457
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Memory and Language
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 1998


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence

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