Childhood Amnesia: Factors Related to the Age of First Childhood Memory
Büyükişcan, Ezgi Soncu
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Childhood amnesia is a state which is characterized by an inability to fully remember autobiographical memories formed in the early stages of development. Although it is generally accepted that the earliest memories belong to the ages of 3 or 4, the exact age to which the first childhood memory belongs is still debatable. This study aims to identify the age of a first childhood memory, and to investigate the effects of gender, factors related to that memory, attachment style and childhood traumatic experiences on the age of first memory. A total of 137 university students participated in the study. Participants were asked to write down their first memory and fill out a survey that asked for the age and features of the memory such as the level of ordinariness, clarity, emotional intensity, and integrity. In addition, participants' early traumatic experiences and attachment styles were assessed. The results indicated that the age to which first memory belongs ranges between 24 and 95 months, with a mean of 52.44 (SD = 16.77) months. The age of the earliest memory was significantly younger for women compared to men. In addition to gender, early traumatic experiences related to parents' relationships emerged as another significant predictor of the age of the earliest memory. Childhood amnesia is perceived as an indicator of the development of autobiographical memory. Our findings suggest that in addition to personal characteristics such as gender, childhood amnesia is also related to early childhood experiences.