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The organization and structure of autobiographical memory$
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John Mace

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198784845

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198784845.001.0001

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Development and Organization of Autobiographical Memory Form and Function

Development and Organization of Autobiographical Memory Form and Function

(p.52) 4 Development and Organization of Autobiographical Memory Form and Function
The organization and structure of autobiographical memory

Robyn Fivush

Theodore E. A. Waters

Oxford University Press

Autobiographical memory defines who we are in relationship to others in the world. In addition to providing critical information to direct our behavior in adaptive ways, autobiographical memory functions to create a coherent and continuous sense of self and relationships over time, and thus autobiographical memory includes multiple temporal horizons. This chapter demonstrates that these different temporal horizons develop at different rates across childhood and are socially scaffolded in their forms through sharing memories with others. Even early in development, children recall both specific episodes and recurring scripted events in coherent, but differentiated ways, suggesting that children may be using them for different functions. Episodic representations are used to define self and regulate emotions, whereas scripted representations are used to direct behavior. By adulthood, autobiographical memory has developed into a complex interplay among episodes, recurring events, and extended events, and preliminary evidence suggests that adults may use different autobiographical forms for different functions. This approach to examining autobiographical memory as it develops along multiple temporal horizons and serves multiple functions indicates the need to expand our theoretical understanding of the organization of autobiographical memory.

Keywords:   autobiographical memory, episodic memory, scripts, functions of memory, memory development

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