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Training Mothers in Elaborative Reminiscing Enhances Children’s Autobiographical Memory and Narrative


  • This study was funded by grants from the Marsden Fund of the Royal Society of New Zealand and the Division of Sciences at the University of Otago. Portions of this research were presented at the Cognitive Development Society Meetings in Park City, Utah in October 2003 and at the International Conference on Memory in Sydney, New South Wales in July 2006. We are grateful to all the families who participated, and we thank Rebecca Brookland, Meagan Stephenson, Amy Bird, Sarah Stewart, Donna Anderson, Amelia Gill, Alana Roughan, Alison Sparks, and the other members of the Language and Memory team for their tireless efforts in collecting, transcribing, and coding the data.

concerning this article should be addressed to Elaine Reese, Department of Psychology, University of Otago, P.O. Box 56, Dunedin, New Zealand. Electronic mail may be sent to


This longitudinal intervention assessed children’s memory at 2-1/2 years (short-term posttest; N= 115) and their memory and narrative at 3-1/2 years (long-term posttest; N= 100) as a function of maternal training in elaborative reminiscing when children were 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 years. At both posttests, trained mothers were more elaborative in their reminiscing than untrained mothers. At the long-term posttest, trained mothers were also more repetitive than untrained mothers. Children of trained mothers provided richer memories than children of untrained mothers at both posttests. Children of trained mothers also produced more accurate memories with researchers but only if they had high initial levels of self-awareness. Results are discussed with respect to theory and practice in autobiographical memory development.