Validating reports of poor childhood memory

Early memories vary widely in content: Play activities, injuries, and transitions (such as moving or changing schools) can all become events remembered into adulthood (Peterson, Morris, Baker-Ward, & Flynn, 2013).What types of events persist into adult memory may well reflect characteristics of our childhood, as well representing what is integral to what matters to us.Thank you so much for sharing your experience with very early childhood memories.

One young woman recalled a vivid memory of an experience at preschool when she was 3 or 4: A man in a business suit came to talk to the class.

As he spoke, he slowly changed clothing, adding piece by piece of his Native American garb until he stood before them as a chief in full Onondaga dress.

The totality of our autobiographical memories mirrors not just the fabric of our lives, but also the fabric of who we have .

Just as early memories reflect the influence of our cultural context, they can also reflect the impact of the type of childhood we enjoyed.

He made the point of the lesson clear, reminding them that he was the same man dressed in either outfit.

As an adult, the woman explained that this impressive childhood memory fostered her appreciation of diversity and inspired her work as an activist for human rights.

For example, Canadian children were more likely to remember early experiences of solitary play and individual-oriented transitions, while Chinese children were more likely to recall family and school interactions (Peterson, Wang, & Hou, 2009).

It is not yet clear why certain experiences are remembered for a lifetime, while so many more are not.

Research has indicated that most people’s earliest memories, on average, date back to when they were 3-1/2 years old.


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