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Psychol Rev. 1997 Jul;104(3):499-523.

The emergence and early development of autobiographical memory.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Canada. mhowe@morgan.ucs.mun.ca


The authors provide a new framework that integrates autobiographical memory with other early achievements (e.g., gesturing, language, concept formation). In this theory, the emergence and early development of autobiographical memory does not require the invocation of specialized neurological or multiple memory mechanisms but rather arises as a natural consequence of developments in related domains including in the "software" that drives general memory functioning. In particular, autobiographical memory emerges contemporaneously with the cognitive self, a knowledge structure whose features serve to organize memories of experiences that happened to "me." Because this cognitive self emerges in the 2nd year of life, the lower limit for early autobiographical memories is set at about 2 years, with subsequent accumulation of memories linked to improvements in children's ability to maintain information in storage.

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