The widespread belief that memory deteriorates as one approaches old age is not completely true as researchers have found that while the capacity to recall specific facts deteriorates with age, other types of memory do not.
"In old age, deterioration appears in episodic memory but not in semantic memory," said study author Alaitz Aizpurua from University of the Basque Country in Spain.
"Episodic memory preserves the facts of the past in our personal life, and it is more specific in terms of time and space: we can remember the last time we went to a restaurant, who we sat next to, what we ate… " Aizpurua said.
Semantic memory is related to language, to the meaning of concepts and to repetitive facts.
"This type of memory (semantic), and procedural memory are maintained (in some cases they even improve) whereas episodic memory in which detailed memories are retained is reduced," Aizpurua added.
Procedural memory is the one to do with skills, the one we need to do things — to drive, for example.
In the experiment conducted for the research, the participants were asked to recall three facts from their personal lives.
The researchers found that an individual — whether an adult or young person — has the capacity to remember information relating to facts in his/her private life in detail.
"The main difference between older adults and younger adults is as follows: the younger ones remember more episodic details," Aizpurua said.
The study appeared in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.