Childrens Memory May Be More Reliable
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Children's Memory May Be More Reliable

July 27, 2010
Scientists have found that humans exhibit two types of memory. One they call "verbatim trace," in which events are recorded very precisely and factually. Children have more "verbatim trace," but as they mature, they develop more and more of a second type of memory: "gist trace." "Gist trace" is where they recall the meaning of an event or its emotional flavor, but not precise facts. Gist trace is the most common cause of false memories, occurring most often in adults. Research shows that children are less likely to produce false memories, because gist trace develops slowly. As a result, children's recollections could be more reliable than those of adults, leading to ramifications in the courtroom. This illustration shows the Roman two-faced god, Janus, on trial. Symbolically, his bearded, mature head speaks to judges of yore, while the young boy's head is turned towards the judge of the future.

This image accompanied NSF press release, "Memory on Trial."

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