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Early Childhood Memories are not Repressed: Either They were Never Formed or were Quickly Forgotten

Howe, M. L. ORCID: 0000-0002-5747-5571 (2022). Early Childhood Memories are not Repressed: Either They were Never Formed or were Quickly Forgotten. Topics in Cognitive Science, doi: 10.1111/tops.12636


Early childhood events are rarely remembered in adulthood. In fact, memory for these early experiences declines during childhood itself. This holds regardless of whether these memories of autobiographical experiences are traumatic or mundane, everyday experiences. Indeed, what people tend to remember from their childhoods involves relatively innocuous experiences, ones often devoid of emotion. In this article, I provide an overview of the types of memories adults recall from their childhoods and the ages at which these memories are believed to have been formed. Along the way, I provide a brief exegesis of the neurobiological and cognitive underpinnings of early memory development. I will show that changes and growth in neural interconnectivity as well as the development of various cognitive structures (e.g., the inception of the cognitive self) help propel the emergence of a mature autobiographical memory system, one that can and does serve as a reconstructive base for remembering events that occur in later childhood and adulthood. During the course of this review, I detail the nature of early memories, their fragility, and the adaptive consequences of forgetting and supplanting these memories with newer, more age-appropriate experiences throughout childhood.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permitsuse, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher Keywords: Infantile amnesia, Childhood amnesia, Repression, Forgetting, Trauma memory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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