Nourkova V.V. Momentary life review: a metaphor, an experience or a false memory? Further research perspectives

Full text in Russian: Нуркова В.В. Мгновенный жизненный обзор. Метафора? Реальный мнемический опыт? Ретроспективный артефакт? К вопросу о перспективах исследования
Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

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The aim of the paper was to analyze the current state of investigations of a new psychological phenomenon – Momentary Life Review (MLR) – and to develop the program for its further research. MLR phenomenon means that remembering highly stressful situations people argue that "the whole life has glimpsed before eyes in a moment". General methodology of MLR studies based on retrospective self-reports is criticized for failure to distinguish processes of experiencing MLR and memory processes of the delayed recollection of MLR. The controversy of literature concerning conditions of MLR manifestation, MLR content and its psychological consequences is noted. The author proposes that MLR should be considered as a memory illusion that appears as the result of interaction of three factors: 1) a specific mode of autobiographical memory functioning under highly stressful conditions; 2) cultural models of MLR and 3) linguistic means of encoding a “vivid” memory image into a retrospective verbal description. New methodology based on Vygotsky’s cultural-historical approach is suggested for development of a MLR imitation method in laboratory conditions.

Keywords: momentary life review, autobiographical memory, working memory, parallel information processing, false memories, memory illusion, genetic experiment, L.S.Vygotsky, cultural-historical approach


The study was performed under the grant of the President of the Russian Federation for state support of young Russian scientists having doctor’s degree, project МД-3423.2011.6.

Cyrillic letters are transliterated according to BSI standards.

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Received 25 May 2011. Date of publication: 18 August 2011.

About author

Nourkova Veronika V. Ph.D., Associated Professor, Department of Psychology, The Lomonosov Moscow State University, ul. Mokhovaya, 11, str. 9, 125009 Moscow, Russia.
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APA Style
Nourkova, V. V. (2011). Momentary life review: a metaphor, an experience or a false memory? Further research perspectives. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 4(18). Retrieved from 0421100116/0037. [in Russian, abstr. in English].

Russian State Standard GOST P 7.0.5-2008
Nourkova V.V. Momentary life review: a metaphor, an experience or a false memory? Further research perspectives [Electronic resource] // Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya. 2011. N 4(18). URL: (date of access: 0421100116/0037. [in Russian, abstr. in English]

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