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. 2016 Jan 12;6:2038.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.02038. eCollection 2015.

The Fate of Childhood Memories: Children Postdated Their Earliest Memories as They Grew Older

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Free PMC article

The Fate of Childhood Memories: Children Postdated Their Earliest Memories as They Grew Older

Qi Wang et al. Front Psychol. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Childhood amnesia has been attributed to the inaccessibility of early memories as children grow older. We propose that systematic biases in the age estimates of memories may play a role. A group of 4- to 9-year-olds children were followed for 8 years, recalling and dating their earliest childhood memories at three time points. Although children retained many of the memories over time, their age estimates of these memories shifted forward in time, to later ages. The magnitude of postdating was especially sizable for earlier memories and younger children such that some memories were dated more than a year later than originally. As a result, the boundary of childhood amnesia increased with age. These findings shed light on childhood amnesia and the fate of early memories. They further suggest that generally accepted estimates for people's age of earliest memory may be wrong, which has far-reaching implications.

Keywords: childhood amnesia; earliest memory; memory age estimate; postdating; prospective study; telescoping.

Figures

FIGURE 1
FIGURE 1
Age of “initial” earliest memories dated at three time points as a function of age group and initial memory age. Error bars represent standard errors of the means.
FIGURE 2
FIGURE 2
Age of “new” earliest memories dated at the 2-year and 8-year interviews as a function of age group and initial memory age. Error bars represent standard errors of the means.

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