On resolving the enigma of infantile amnesia

Psychol Bull. 1993 Mar;113(2):305-26. doi: 10.1037/0033-2909.113.2.305.


Historical and current theories of infantile amnesia are examined. To evaluate the viability of these theories, as well as the phenomenon of infantile amnesia itself, a review of memory development from birth through the preschool years is provided, including an overview of relevant perceptual and neurological maturation. In the context of this review, extant theories of infantile amnesia are shown to falter, and it is concluded that infantile amnesia is a chimera of a previously unexplored relationship between the development of a cognitive sense of self and the personalization of event memory. This hypothesis is examined in detail and discussed in the context of related developments in language and social cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Language Development
  • Life Change Events*
  • Mental Recall*
  • Personality Development*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Retention, Psychology*
  • Socialization
  • Unconscious, Psychology