Is Remembering Together Better?

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Is the name of a favorite song or movie on the tip of your tongue? Ask your spouse for help, suggests a new study.

The research refutes the belief that individual recall is most efficient. That’s true when people are asked to collaborate with strangers, but there are benefits to remembering with someone you know intimately, according to the study published in the journal Memory Studies.

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Remembering better together depends on the task, the researchers found. For example, when couples were asked to reproduce words from studied lists, they performed about the same working independently or together.

And while previous research shows that couples do worse on producing lists of shared memories, such as holidays, when they work together, the new research shows other benefits of working together:

  • * Couples were able to recall information such as an elusive name of a musical when working together
  • * Couples came up with more details descriptions of events, including sensory information
  • * Couples considered things from multiple perspectives when working together

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The benefits of working together were even greater for older adults, the researchers noted, and for couples who rated their intimacy higher. The age-related gains might even explain why cognitive decline often occurs almost simultaneously in couples.

Photo: ThinkStock

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