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Infantile Amnesia Across the Years: A 2-Year Follow-up of Children’s Earliest Memories

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  • Preparation of this article was primarily supported by Grant 513–02 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to C. Peterson. Additional funding came from the Memorial University Undergraduate Career Experience Program, the Student Work and Service Program, and the Summer Career Placement Program. We extend our thanks to the Janeway Hospital and their Emergency Room staff, and to all the recruiters, interviewers, transcribers, and data analyzers who participated. We also thank Penny Voutier for data management, Malcolm Grant for statistical consultation, and Susan Flynn for scoring assistance. And most of all we thank the parents and children who allowed us into their homes and cooperated so helpfully.

concerning this article should be addressed to Carole Peterson, Psychology Department, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada A1B 3X9. Electronic mail may be sent to carole@mun.ca.

Abstract

Although infantile amnesia has been investigated for many years in adults, only recently has it been investigated in children. This study was a 2-year follow-up and extension of an earlier study. Children (4–13 years old) were asked initially and 2 years later for their earliest 3 memories. At follow-up, their age at the time of these memories shifted to several months later, with younger children unlikely to provide the same memories. Moreover, when given cues about memories recalled 2 years previously, many were still not recalled. In contrast, older children were more likely to recall the same memories, and cues to former memories were successful. Thus, older children were becoming consistent in terms of recalling very early memories.

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