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Am Psychol. 1996 Jan;51(1):29-41.

What do infants recall of their lives? Memory for specific events by one- to two-year-olds.

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Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis 55455-0345, USA.


Until as recently as a decade ago, it was widely believed that infants and children younger than age three were unable to recall the events of their lives. Several developments, including findings of representational competence in infants in the first year of life and evidence of long-term recall abilities in children as young as three, have led to revision of this assumption. Through application of the technique of elicited imitation of action sequences, my colleagues and I have gathered evidence that children in the one- to two-year age range are able to recall specific events. Within this age period, age is not the major determinant of whether an event will be recalled: Even 13-month-olds recall events after long periods of time. Children demonstrate event memory both nonverbally and verbally. Rather than by age, recall primarily is determined by what the child is asked to remember, the number of exposures to the event, and the availability of cues or reminders of the event. These findings have led to rejection of the traditional assumption of a mnemonically incompetent one- to two-year-old and provided impetus for identification of the factors that maintain the accessibility of early memories over the transition from infancy to early childhood.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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