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Psychol Sci. 2000 Sep;11(5):360-4.

On the transition from childhood amnesia to the recall of personal memories.

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Department of Psychology, Saint Mary's University, Halifax, NS B3H 3C3, Canada.


When adults are asked to report and date personal memories of their pasts, they show childhood amnesia, that is, diminished recall of experiences over the childhood years. This way of demonstrating the phenomenon was supplemented in the present study with a more direct approach: Participants reported events of early childhood that they knew they had experienced (because of family stories, photographs, etc.) but did not actually remember. The resulting cumulative relative frequency distributions produced by the two methods were substantially different, with the median age of remembered events being 6.07 years and of known events, 3.20 years. We suggest that the mean of these two ages, 4.64 years, gives a good indication of when childhood amnesia is eclipsed by personal memories in adults' recall of their personal pasts.

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