Study: Young People Store ‘High Definition’ Memories

Older adults have same memories, study finds, but remember things in "lower resolution"

  • Share
  • Read Later

Updated at 7:04 p.m. EST on Jan. 13

Younger people don’t have more memories than their grandparents—rather, the memories they do have, they retrieve in higher definition, according to a Vanderbilt University study on age and memory recollection.

The study looked at visual working memory, or a person’s ability to recall visual information. Scientists asked one group of 13 adults around the age of 23 and a second group of 11 aged around 67 years to memorize the sequence and colors of a series of dots.

The younger group was better at memorizing the color of dots they had just seen, but electroencephalographic data collected to measure both groups’ memory capacity showed both groups remembered the same number of items. Older adults just remembered the items in “lower resolution” than the younger volunteers, according to the study.

“While older adults might store the same number of items, their memory of each item is ‘fuzzier’ than that of younger adults,” said Dr. Philip Ko, the lead researcher on the study.

This post was updated to include the number of participants in the study.