Directions: Now answer the questions.
1. What is the main purpose of the lecture?
A. To discuss possible explanations for childhood amnesia
B. To describe key features of childhood amnesia
C. To explain methods of testing memory in children of different ages
D. To discuss why the ability to recall memories diminishes as a person ages
2. Why does the professor ask students about their earliest memories?
A. To help students relate to the topic she is about to discuss
B. To establish that people vary in the time of their earliest memory
C. To introduce the connection between language and memory
D. To point out a common theme in the earliest memories of most people
3. What does the professor imply about some of the explanations for childhood amnesia that she describes?
A. They can never be proved or disproved.
B. They were formed without proper evidence.
C. They explain only certain types of childhood amnesia.
D. They are contradicted by her own research.
4. The professor mentions some commonly held explanations for childhood amnesia.Indicate whether each of the following is one of the explanations she mentions.
|Early memories are repressed.|
|Young children have few experiences to remember.|
|Young children are unable to form memories.|
|Children lose memories at a faster rate than adults.|
|Young children do not make an effort to remember events|
5. How was recall tested in children without language ability?
A. By recording children’s responses to familiar faces
B. By observing children’s reactions to a repeated series of actions
C. By having children imitate each other’s actions
D. By having children imitate an ordered sequence of actions
6. The professor mentions a study in the 1980s that tested memory in children under age 3. What did the researchers conclude from this study?
A. Young children do not develop the capacity for recall until after age 3.
B. Piaget’s theory linking language development to memory was incorrect.
C. Young children typically remember events for about nine months.
D. The formation of memories is dependent upon language development.
4. Yes: 1, 3,4 ; No: 2,5
Listen to part of a lecture in a psychology class.
OK, if I asked about the earliest thing you can remember, I’ll bet for most of you, your earliest memory would be from about age 3, right? Well, that’s true for most adults … we can’t remember anything that happened before the age of 3. An-and this phenomenon is so widespread and well-documented it has a name. It’s called childhood amnesia and was first documented in 1893.
As I said this phenomenon refers to adults not being able to remember childhood Incidents. It’s not children trying to remember events from last month or last year. Of course it follows that if you can’t remember an incident as a child you probably won’t remember it as an adult. OK? So—so—so why is this? What are the reasons for child-hood amnesia … Well, once a popular explanation was that childhood memories are repressed … um, the memories are disturbing, so that as adults we keep them buried. And so we can’t recall them … and this is based on . .. well—well it’s not based on—on—on the the kind of solid research and lab testing I want to talk about today, so—so let’s put that explanation aside and concentrate on just two. OK? It—it could be that as children we do form memories of things prior to age 3, but forget them as we grow older. That’s one explanation. Another possibility is that children younger than 3 lack, um, lack some cognitive capacity for memory. And that Idea … um, that children are unable to
form memories, um … that’s been the dominant belief in psychology for the past hun-dred years. And this idea is very much tied to two things: the theories of Jean Piaget and also to language development in children.
So … Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Piaget suggested that because they don’t have language, children younger than 18-24 months live in the “here and now,” that is, they lack the means to symbolically represent objects and events that are not physically present. Everybody get that? Plaget proposed that young children don’t have
a way to represent things that aren’t right in front of them. That’s what language does, right? Words represent things, ideas. Once language starts to develop, from about age 2, they do have a system for symbolic representation and can talk about things which aren’t in their immediate environment, in—including the past. Of course, he didn’t claim that infants don’t have any sort of memory—uh, it’s acknowledged that they can recog-
nize some stimuli, like faces. And for many years, this model was very much in favor In psychology even though memory tests were never performed on young children.
Well, finally, in the 1980s, a study was done. And this study showed that very young children—under the age of two—do have the capacity for recall. Now, if the children can’t talk, how was recall tested? Well, that’s a good question, since the capacity for recall has always been linked with the ability to talk. So the researchers set up an experiment using imitation based tasks. Adults used props, urn, toys or other objects, to demonstrate an action that had two steps. The children were asked to imitate the steps immediately, and then again after delays of 1 or more months. And, even after a delay, the children could-could recall, or replicate the action—the objects used, the steps involved and the order of the steps. Even children as young as 9 months! Now, tests showed that there was a faster rate of forgetting among the youngest children … but most importantly, it showed that the development of recall did not depend on language development. And that was an important finding. I guess I should add that the findings don’t say that there was no connection, um no connection between the development of language and memory.
There’s some evidence that being able to talk about an event does lead to having a stronger memory of that event. But that doesn’t seem to be the real issue here… So, back to our question about the cause of childhood amnesia. Well, there is something called the “rate of forgetting.” And childhood amnesia may reflect a high rate of forget-
ting. In other words, children under the age of 3 do form memories, and do so without language. But they forget the memories at a fast rate, probably faster than adults do. Researchers have set a standard . . . sort of an expected rate of forgetting. But that expected rate was set based on tests done on adults. So what is the rate of forgetting for
children under the age of three? We expect it to be high but the tests to prove this really haven’t been done yet.