Fragment memories mark the end of childhood amnesia

Abstract

Adults described and dated two kinds of first remembrances: a personal event memory (the recollection of a personal episode that had occurred at some time in some place) and a memory fragment (an isolated memory moment having no event context and remembered, perhaps, as an image, a behavior, or an emotion). First fragment memories were judged to have originated substantially earlier in life than first event memories—approximately 3 1/3 years of age for first fragment memories versus roughly 4 years of age for first event memories. We conclude that the end of childhood amnesia is marked not by our earliest episodic memories, but by the earliest remembered fragments of childhood experiences.

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Correspondence to Darryl Bruce.

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Financial support was provided by grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and from the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, Saint Mary’s University. L.A.W.-O. is now at the Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto. K.P.-G. is now at the Department of Psychology and Research in Education, University of Kansas.

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Bruce, D., Wilcox-O’Hearn, L.A., Robinson, J.A. et al. Fragment memories mark the end of childhood amnesia. Mem Cogn 33, 567–576 (2005). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03195324

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Keywords

  • Event Memory
  • Personal Event
  • Confidence Judgment
  • Personal Memory
  • Simple Effect Test