What people do with their memories of childhood trauma determines how well they recover — or fail to.
Around half the children in the study had little or no experience of reading for pleasure or did not pick up the habit until later on.
Older people are more likely to have these fictional early memories.
Almost 40 percent of people’s first memories are fictional, the largest ever survey on the subject finds.
Most people’s real, verifiable earliest memories date from around three-and-a-half years of age, scientists have found.
However, almost 40 percent of people claim to have memories from age two or younger, which is probably not possible.
Older people are more likely to have these fictional early memories.
Professor Martin Conway, study co-author, said:
“In our study we asked people to recall the very first memory that they actually remembered, asking them to be sure that it wasn’t related to a family story or photograph.
When we looked through the responses from participants we found that a lot of these first ‘memories’ were frequently related to infancy, and a typical example would be a memory based around a pram.
For this person, this type of memory could have resulted from someone saying something like ‘mother had a large green pram’.
The person then imagines what it would have looked like.
Over time these fragments then becomes a memory and often the person will start to add things in such as a string of toys along the top.
Crucially, the person remembering them doesn’t know this is fictional.
In fact when people are told that their memories are false they often don’t believe it.
This partly due to the fact that the systems that allow us to remember things are very complex, and it’s not until we’re five or six that we form adult-like memories due to the way that the brain develops and due to our maturing understanding of the world.”
The results come from a survey of 6,641 people.
Almost one-sixth claimed to have memories from their first year of life, which is virtually impossible.
Dr Shazia Akhtar, the study’s first author, said:
“We suggest that what a rememberer has in mind when recalling fictional improbably early memories is an episodic-memory-like mental representation consisting of remembered fragments of early experience and some facts or knowledge about their own infancy/childhood.
Additionally, further details may be non-consciously inferred or added, e.g. that one was wearing nappy when standing in the cot.
Such episodic-memory-like mental representations come, over time, to be recollectively experienced when they come to mind and so for the individual they quite simply are ‘memories’ which particularly point to infancy.”
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science (Akhtar et al., 2018).
One-in-four children worldwide is maltreated.
Across 58 years, this high school factor was still influencing people’s cognitive powers.
Psychological hostility can be as bad as, or worse, than physical hostility, studies have frequently found.
Hostile parenting styles increase the chances of children developing mental health issues by 150 percent, a study concludes.
Hostile parenting can involve routine physical punishment, regularly shouting at children, breaking down their self-esteem and handing out random punishments on a whim.
In many ways psychological hostility can be as bad as, or worse, than physical hostility, studies have frequently found.
The research included over 7,000 children aged 3, 5 and 9 who were tracked as part of the ‘Growing Up In Ireland‘ study.
The results showed that 10 percent of children were at high risk for mental health issues.
The research covered all kinds of issues:
- internalising symptoms: social withdrawal and anxiety.
- externalising symptoms: aggression, hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Mr Ioannis Katsantonis, the study’s first author, said:
“The fact that one in 10 children were in the high-risk category for mental health problems is a concern and we ought to be aware of the part parenting may play in that.
We are not for a moment suggesting that parents should not set firm boundaries for their children’s behavior, but it is difficult to justify frequent harsh discipline, given the implications for mental health.”
The study assessed parents on how much they used these three parenting styles:
- Warm parenting: supportive of the child’s needs.
- Consistent: setting clear boundaries and expectations.
- Hostile: psychologically and/or physically malevolent.
Hostile parenting, the researchers founds, increased the risk of children experiencing mental health issues at age 9 by 150 percent.
However, parenting style was not the only factor: those from less wealthy homes, single-parent families and female children were at a higher risk of mental health problems.
Dr Jennifer Symonds, study co-author, said:
“Our findings underline the importance of doing everything possible to ensure that parents are supported to give their children a warm and positive upbringing, especially if wider circumstances put those children at risk of poor mental health outcomes.
Avoiding a hostile emotional climate at home won’t necessarily prevent poor mental health outcomes from occurring, but it will probably help.”
Children at risk should be given appropriate support, said Mr Katsantonis:
“Appropriate support could be something as simple as giving new parents clear, up-to-date information about how best to manage young children’s behavior in different situations.
There is clearly a danger that parenting style can exacerbate mental health risks.
This is something we can easily take steps to address.”
- Harsh parenting practices when children are small is linked to smaller brain structures in adolescence.
- A cold parenting style may shorten their children’s lives.
- Authoritarian parents are more likely to raise children who are disrespectful and delinquent.
- People brought up by harsh parents can become fearful adults.
The study was published in the journal Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences (Katsantonis & Symonds, 2023).
There is little evidence that children ‘turn into’ their parents, but parental personalities are central.
Children with the biomarker for this chemical were twice as likely to have ADHD as those without.
A commonly used household pesticide has been linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and young teens.
Pyrethroids, a type of pesticide, were introduced as a supposedly safer alternative to organophosphates.
Organophosphates were banned for residential use in the US 15 years ago.
But the research may question the safety of their replacement.
Dr Tanya Froehlich, a developmental paediatrician who led the study, said:
“Given the growing use of pyrethroid pesticides and the perception that they may represent a safe alternative, our findings may be of considerable public health importance.”
The results come from 687 children who were followed as part of the 2000-2001 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
This collected information about hyperactivity and impulsivity as well as biomarkers of pyrethoid exposure.
The results showed that children with the biomarker were twice as likely to have ADHD as those without.
The connection was much stronger in boys than girls.
Dr. Froehlich said:
“Our study assessed pyrethroid exposure using 3-PBA concentrations in a single urine sample.
Given that pyrethroids are non-persistent and rapidly metabolized, measurements over time would provide a more accurate assessment of typical exposure and are recommended in future studies before we can say definitively whether our results have public health ramifications.”
The study was published in the journal Environmental Health (Wagner-Schuman et al., 2015).
Depression, anxiety and suicide are now at record levels among children — how can that be explained?
The bias emerges in children as young as five, but fades with age.