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The nature of infantile amnesia.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)



The current state of knowledge concerning infantile amnesia is presented. A brief overview of the developmental neuroscience relevant to early memory development is presented first. Because regions relevant to episodic memory (hippocampus and parahippocampal areas) have a high degree of overlap between human and nonhuman animals in their development, anatomy, and function, it is argued that episodic memory may exist across a number of species. If one of the hallmarks of episodic memory is faster forgetting of information in immature than more mature members of the species, then it is likely that infantile amnesia may be species invariant. Following this line of reasoning, the literature on human and nonhuman animal infantile amnesia is reviewed. It is argued that an adequate theory of infantile amnesia must account for the entire literature, human and nonhuman animal alike. A theory of this sort is presented, one that emphasizes the continuity of basic memory processes (encoding, storage, retention, and retrieval) across species and development and that capitalizes on changes in knowledge structures unique to different species, ones that may be controlled by across-species variation in the neocortical areas that modulate input and output to the hippocampal and parahippocampal regions.