Peterson, C., Grant, V. V., & Boland, L.D. (2005). Childhood amnesia in children and adolescents: Their earliest memories. Memory, 13, 622-637.


Investigations of childhood amnesia have almost exclusively focused on the earliest memories of adults. Here we investigate the earliest memories of children 6 - 19 years old. Parents confirmed the memory events and dated the memories. There were surprisingly few developmental differences between the earliest memories of children. Although 6-9 year olds recalled earlier events than did older children, there were no differences between older age groups. Memories from all age groups were similar in structure, social orientation, and the nature of the recalled event. However, memories of older children were more likely to involve negative affect. There were also few gender differences, although girls were more likely to recall traumatic or transitional events while boys were more likely to recall play events. Overall, results deepen the paradox of early memory: 6-9 year olds have verbally accessible memories from very early childhood that then seem to disappear as they get older.