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 April 23, 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 April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Study Says Most Crime Not Linked To Mental Illness

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A new study finds most crimes committed by people with mental illness are not caused by symptoms of their illness or disorder. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

How Smaller Plates And Cutlery Could Make You Feel Fuller

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) NBC's "Today" conducted an experiment to see if changing the size of plates and utensils affects the amount individuals eat. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Do We Get Nicer With Age?

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) A recent report claims personality can change over time as we age, and usually that means becoming nicer and more emotionally stable. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

How to Master Motherhood With the Best Work/Life Balance

TheStreet (Apr. 22, 2014) In the U.S., there are more than 11 million couples trying to conceive at any given time. From helping celebrity moms like Bethanny Frankel to ordinary soon-to-be-moms, TV personality and parenting expert, Rosie Pope, gives you the inside scoop on mastering motherhood. London-born entrepreneur Pope is the creative force behind Rosie Pope Maternity and MomPrep. She explains why being an entrepreneur offers the best life balance for her and tips for all types of moms. Video provided by TheStreet
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