Flashbulb memories are distinctly vivid, precise, concrete, long-lasting memories of a personal circumstance surrounding a personís discovery of shocking events.† People remember with almost perceptual clarity details of the context in which they first heard about the news, such as what they were doing, with whom they were with and where they were.
These flashbulb memories are not as accurate or permanent as photographic memories but the flashbulb memoriesí forgetting curve is far less affected by time than is the case for other types of memories studied in basic memory research.
The flashbulb memories are stored on one occasion and retained for a lifetime.† These memories are associated with important historical or autobiographical events.† Such events could include, for example, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. or the attack on Pearl Harbor.
What makes the flashbulb memory special is the emotional arousal at the moment that the event was registered to the memory.† It is the emotions elicited by a flashbulb memory event that increase the ability to recall the details of the event.†
One reason that the flashbulb memories are remembered is because these memories tend to be retold over and over again.† Sometimes, though, these memories are not necessarily accurate.† Accuracy reduces during the first 3 months and levels at about 12 months.