Macquarie University
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Characterisation of music, photo and object evoked autobiographical memories in healthy elderly people

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posted on 2022-03-28, 20:59 authored by Sarah Virginia Ramdoo
Recent literature suggests that autobiographical memories can be evoked involuntarily, and in detail, with the use of music and objects – producing evidence across groups of healthy adults and even clinical groups with memory impairments. However, neither music nor objects have been compared with other stimuli amongst healthy elderly people. This thesis compares the incidence of music-evoked autobiographical memories (MEAMs), photo-evoked autobiographical memories (PEAMs) and object-evoked autobiographical memories (OEAMs). Twelve participants (six male and six female) reported memories following exposure to: (1) 16 famous songs across 1930-2010 (rated number one in Australian music charts for the longest duration); (2) 17 photos (of famous events), two from each decade 1930-2010; and (3) 16 iconic household objects, two from each decade 1930-2010. Memories were reported via oral questionnaires. Statistical analyses revealed that there was a significantly lower proportion of MEAMs relative to PEAMs and OEAMs, with the number of PEAMs and OEAMs being statistically similar. There was no significant correlation between the frequency of MEAMs or OEAMs and familiarity ratings, but there was a significant positive correlation between PEAMs and familiarity ratings. There was a clearly defined reminiscence bump for MEAMs, but an extended reminiscence bump for PEAMs/OEAMs. This investigation is the first to characterise and compare autobiographical memories evoked by music, photos and objects amongst a healthy elderly population group. Results are discussed in view of research on age-related memory decline, and the potential to re-activate memories using carefully selected triggers.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- AM triggers -- The current study -- Method -- Results -- Discussion -- Conclusion -- References -- Tables -- Appendices.


"Department of Psychology & Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia" -- title page. Empirical thesis. Bibliography: pages 46-49

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Psychology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Psychology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Amee Baird

Additional Supervisor 1

William Forde Thompson


Copyright Sarah Virginia Ramdoo 2018. Copyright disclaimer:




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