Monday, February 11, 2008

Storytelling and Childhood Memories

Title link to ABC radio: science show interview with Professor Hayne

Recent article from Brisbane's 'Courier Mail' - February 2008: Tales stir earliest memories

Maori adults tend to have the earliest childhood memories of any culture studied to date, researchers say. And the rich storytelling tradition of Maori could explain why.

Otago University psychology researchers say that discussing past events in detail during early childhood is linked to children more effectively storing their early memories.

The University's Associate Professor Elaine Reese, colleague Professor Harlene Hayne and Queensland University of Technology researcher Shelley MacDonald have just published in the US journal, Child Development, the first evidence that Maori children experience a richer narrative environment than New Zealand's caucasian children.

Previous Otago research from 2000 found, on average, young Maori adults' earliest memories reached back to two years of age, while those of New Zealand caucasians went back to three years.

Maori mothers provided more references to time and emotions in their birth stories than European mothers, Professor Hayne said.