Peterson, C. (2002). Children's long-term memory for autobiographical events. Developmental Review, 22, 370-402.


Autobiographical memories not only capture our past, they help define who we are. In this review, the origins of children's autobiographical memories are first traced, considering both research on infantile amnesia (which shows limited memory for early life events) as well as the perspective emerging from studies of young children's memory skills (which shows surprisingly long-term memory competence by 1- and 2-year-olds). The review then focuses on empirical investigations of children's long-term memory for autobiographical events, dividing studies into those that investigated delays of 1 to 2 years from those assessing memory after at least 4 years. Although some studies show substantial memory decrements with increased delays, a few studies have documented remarkably robust recall after a number of years. Factors that might contribute to the long-term retention of some events are briefly considered, and implications are drawn for relevant questions that the courts are asking about children's memory abilities.