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J Exp Child Psychol. 2011 Dec;110(4):520-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2011.05.006. Epub 2011 Jul 23.

Event memory and suggestibility in abused and neglected children: trauma-related psychopathology and cognitive functioning.

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Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.


This study examined event memory and suggestibility in 3- to 16-year-olds involved in forensic investigations of child maltreatment. A total of 322 children were interviewed about a play activity with an unfamiliar adult. Comprehensive measures of individual differences in trauma-related psychopathology and cognitive functioning were administered. Sexually and/or physically abused children obtained higher dissociation scores than neglected children, and sexually abused children were more likely to obtain a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder than physically abused children, neglected children, and children with no substantiated abuse histories. Overall, older children and children with better cognitive functioning produced more correct information and fewer memory errors. Abuse status per se did not significantly predict children's memory or suggestibility whether considered alone or in interaction with age. However, among highly dissociative children, more trauma symptoms were associated with greater inaccuracy, whereas trauma symptoms were not associated with increased error for children who were lower in dissociative tendencies. Implications of the findings for understanding eyewitness memory in maltreated children are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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