The best stage of your life is not the one between 15 and 25 years old. It's only the one you remember best

The best stage of your life is not the one that goes from the 15 to the 25 years . It’s only the one you remember best An earlier version of this article was published in 2016.

Ask someone about the things he remembers best and most will have happened between the 15 and the 25 . It does not matter if they are current affairs, sporting or public events: they can be Oscar winners, songs of the summer, books or personal memories. Those of us who dedicate ourselves to researching memory call this period of 10 years “the curve of the memories ”in reference to the form that takes if we take into account the set of memories of the whole vi da of a person.

It is one of those rare effects in cognitive psychology that is not usually investigated and we wonder why. Some neurobiologists propose that there is something about the way the brain matures that makes the information we process during this period stay well recorded.

Some researchers propose that we can better remember the experiences they have to see with a first time what the first kiss, the first driving lesson, etc. are like. and most of these experiences tend to occur during those 10 years. Other researchers suggest that the fact that memories focus on this period of time is somewhat definite culturally because it is when key things happen to us that are later relived and told.

Our investigations suggest something different: it may be because it is the period in which we process memories and information that will define us for the rest of our lives, or what is the same, the formation of our personality and we wanted to know if we were right.

Unlike most previous studies, we did not want to rely on memory tests. The problem with memory tests for our theory is that, by definition, what people remember is something meaningful on a personal level. It makes sense: people don’t remember random events and have trouble remembering or even paying attention to information that is not relevant. Since we are obliged to care about the things that shape us, we end up remembering them.

Memories are made of this. (Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash)

You can avoid it if you ask them to research participants who remember events or songs to which they had no attachment, but the problem is that whatever they remember is never entirely irrelevant. If something has stuck in your head because you are indifferent, it is something that still defines you. In our research we wanted to avoid this circularity.

What do we remember and how Our method consisted of using another classic measure of the canon of in-memory research that has not been used much in this area: recognition . Rather than asking participants to recall things, we asked them to choose Oscar-winning actors or popular songs from a list over the years’ 50 until the 2005.

Based on the responses, we were able to know if they remembered experiencing the movie or song first or if they remembered how old they were when it came out and we found that they all centered between the 15 and the 25 year s.

We also asked participants to choose their five favorites from the list, something relevant in our study because it allowed us to know if the percentage of movies or songs that were indifferent to them among the 15 and the 25 years was as high as the percentage of movies or songs in your favorites list. If those movies or songs not personally relevant also showed a similar data curve, our theory of personal development would be demystified and we would return to the idea that it is pure memory.

We found that when it came to movies or songs that participants didn’t care about, they didn’t remember them better if they were from the period of the 15 to the 25 years than if they were from any other period of their lives. To make sure, in a second study we asked the participants which were their favorites and which they remembered something: we got the same results again

When we were young. (Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash)

Our findings suggest that The reason people remember more about that critical period in their lives is, in effect, because that is when identities are formed. The things we live that are not relevant to our identity are simply forgotten and what defines us for the rest of our lives are our tastes and the events we attend, information and the media during this period of our lives.

This does not have to mean that memory theories related to the development of memory or cultural experience are irrelevant. There is still the question of why certain things matter to us on a personal level and those theories could have an answer: we can have shared views on what is beautiful or important on a cultural level; or we can depend on memory mechanisms to maintain our sense of who we are.

What we can say is that the personal meaning that something has for us is a key piece to understand why we remember more of those things 10 years of our life.

Another way to explore is the movies , songs or other experiences that bring back memories but that we do not like. We still have to investigate if these memories follow the same rule of the 15 to 25 years although they do not define us. For the moment at least we are one step closer to understanding how this whole process works and the songs, movies, books or events of our younger years that we They matter surely are partners for life and can even define who we are.

Image: Brandon Hoogenboom / Unsplash

This article was originally published in The Conversation . You can read the original article here .

Magnet Newsletter Subscribe to receive every day the latest news and the most important news to understand and enjoy the world.