Peterson, C., Fowler, T., & Brandeau, K.M. (in press). Earliest Memories and Recent Memories of Highly Salient Events – Are They Similar? Journal of Cognition and Development.
Four- to 11-year-old children were interviewed about two different sorts of memories in the same home visit: recent memories of highly salient and stressful events, namely injuries serious enough to require hospital emergency room treatment, and their earliest memories. Injury memories were scored for amount of unique information, completeness vis à vis a standardized injury prototype, and accuracy while earliest memories were scored for amount of unique information, how old children had been at the time of their earliest memory, and time between their earliest memory and current age. Correlational and regression analyses showed that the two types of memory reports demonstrated considerable similarity in terms of unique information and completeness. Specifically, children with the most informative earliest memories had more informative as well as more complete free recalls of injury events. Such relationships between both sorts of memories suggest similar underlying processes at work when children produce memory reports, even when the length, structure, coherence, and content of those memories is about as divergent as one can imagine.