Childhood Memories Can Be Deceptive

A new scientific study has rigorously investigated the nature of childhood memories:

Childhood memories are less accurate than people think, with the brain likely to fill in gaps when it cannot remember the detail, it has been suggested.

Psychologists have found that while people can usually remember the “what”, “where” and “who” of a situation, they struggle to recall a full mental image.

More specific details such as colours, the weather, or the time of an event are more likely to have been fabricated in the memory, albeit unintentionally. The authors of a new study suggest their findings could have important implications for court cases where witnesses who have experienced crime as children are often given more credence if their accounts are more detailed.

The researchers concluded that the earliest memories “rarely contain the sort of specific details targeted by professional investigators”.

“Jurors often respond positively to overly specific memory evidence and in the UK at least, many convictions are made on the basis of this type of evidence,” said study authors from Sheffield Hallam University.


The study has been published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

To read more of the study please click here.

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