Childhood Amnesia Essay example

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Childhood Amnesia A fundamental aspect of human memory is that the more time elapsed since an event, the fainter the memory becomes. This has been shown to be true on a relatively linear scale with the exception of our first three to four years of life (Fitzgerald, 1991). It is even common for adults not to have any memory before the age of six or seven. The absence of memory in these first years has sparked much interest as to how and why it happens. Ever since Freud (1916/1963) first popularized the phenomenon there have been many questions and few robust empirical studies. Childhood amnesia is defined as the period of life from which no events are remembered (Usher & Neisser, 1993) beginning at birth and ending at the onset of your…show more content…
One such variable is the family specific knowledge that a volunteer has accumulated over the course of their life. Loftus, (1993) suggested that early childhood memories are greatly influenced by one's amassed, family knowledge. For example, a participant who knows that his or her cousin was closely involved in their upbringing is likely to guess that he or she was present at an important event without any actual memory of the fact. Contributing factors to this are family stories, photographs, home movies, etc. The variance of memories between participants also makes it hard to convert what is reported into significant terms. For example, my earliest memory is from when I was about four years old and my grandmother gave me a piece of amethyst in a wooden quart basket similar to one you buy berries in. This information given its degree of accuracy is quite difficult to generalize since every other person will recount a unique story. A method used by experimenters to compensate for this is the targeting of a specific, datable event common to many individuals. In the 1993 experiment by Usher and Neisser, these 'target events' consisted of the birth of a younger sibling, a hospitalization, the death of a family member and a family move. The use of targeted recall has helped solve one problem with infantile amnesic research but as we will see there are still many problems with the experimental
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