Development of autonoetic autobiographical memory in school-age children: genuine age effect or development of basic cognitive abilities?

Conscious Cogn. 2009 Dec;18(4):864-76. doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2009.07.008. Epub 2009 Sep 4.


This study investigated the mechanisms behind episodic autobiographical memory (EAM) development in school-age children. Thirty children (6-11years) performed a novel EAM test. We computed one index of episodicity via autonoetic consciousness and two indices of retrieval spontaneity (overall and EAM-specific) for a recent period (previous school year) and a more remote one (preschool years). Executive functions, and episodic and personal semantic memory were assessed. Results showed that recent autobiographical memories (AMs) were mainly episodic, unlike remote ones. An age-related increase in the indices of episodicity and specific spontaneity for recent AMs was mainly mediated by an age-related increase in the efficiency of the three cognitive abilities. Remote AMs varied only slightly with age (overall spontaneity), reflecting improvements in semantic abilities. Thus, EAM development in school-age children is essentially bound up with the increasing efficiency of cognitive abilities. Results are discussed in the light of models of childhood amnesia.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aptitude*
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Cognition*
  • Consciousness
  • Executive Function
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Semantics
  • Stroop Test