Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Infantile amnesia: Gauging children's earliest memories

Date:
May 11, 2011
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
Previous research has established that adults experience infantile amnesia -- an inability to recall the earliest years of their lives. Now a new longitudinal study of 140 children ages 4 to 13 explores infantile amnesia in children. In the study, children were asked to recall their earliest memories. Younger children showed more change in recalling earliest memories over time; older children showed more consistency in recalling earliest memories over time.

Early memory of a wheelbarrow ride? In the longitudinal study, researchers asked 140 children ages 4 to 13 to describe their three earliest memories. Two years later, they asked the children again about their earliest memories. The children were also asked to estimate how old they were at the time of each memory. Parents confirmed that the events happened and provided their own estimates of how old their children were at the time of the memories.
Credit: micromonkey / Fotolia

Previous research has established that adults experience infantile amnesia -- an inability to recall the earliest years of their lives. Now a new longitudinal study of 140 children ages 4 to 13 explores infantile amnesia in children. In the study, children were asked to recall their earliest memories. Younger children showed more change in recalling earliest memories over time; older children showed more consistency in recalling earliest memories over time.

The inability of individuals to remember the very earliest years of their lives, called infantile amnesia, has been studied for many years in adults, who seem to recall very little before ages 3 or 4. But children also experience infantile amnesia -- and a new study out of Canada explores their experiences.

The study was conducted by researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland and appears in the journal Child Development.

In the longitudinal study, researchers asked 140 children ages 4 to 13 to describe their three earliest memories. Two years later, they asked the children again about their earliest memories. The children were also asked to estimate how old they were at the time of each memory. Parents confirmed that the events happened and provided their own estimates of how old their children were at the time of the memories.

Children who were between 4 and 7 at the first interview showed very little overlap between the memories they recalled the first time and those they remembered two years later, suggesting that very early memories of young children are fragile and vulnerable to forgetting. In contrast, a third of the 10- to 13-year-olds described the same memory as their very earliest when asked two years apart, and more than half of all the memories they provided were the same at both interviews.

"Younger children's earliest memories seemed to change, with memories from younger ages being replaced by memories from older ages," according to Carole Peterson, professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada, who led the study. "But older children became more consistent in their memories as they grew older."

"As we lose those memories of those early years, years that we previously could recall, we're losing part of our childhood -- in essence, we're losing all or almost all of those events that occurred to us then," notes Peterson. "So our 'psychological childhood' begins much later than our real childhood. And most or all of those events that previously were talked about, that caused laughter or tears, are no longer accessible if they occurred in our preschool years."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Carole Peterson, Kelly L. Warren, Megan M. Short. Infantile Amnesia Across the Years: A 2-Year Follow-up of Children’s Earliest Memories. Child Development, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01597.x

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Infantile amnesia: Gauging children's earliest memories." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511074803.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2011, May 11). Infantile amnesia: Gauging children's earliest memories. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511074803.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Infantile amnesia: Gauging children's earliest memories." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110511074803.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins