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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Traces of Times Lost

Erika Hayasaki
The Atlantic
Originally posted November 29, 2016

Here is an excerpt:

According to a 2010 study in Developmental Psychology, 20 percent of children interviewed under age 10 remembered events that occurred (and were verified by parents) before they even turned a year old—in some cases even as early as one month old. These are provocative findings. Yet Katherine Nelson, a developmental psychologist at City University of New York who studied child memory for decades, tells me: “It is still an open question as to whether and when very young children have true episodic memories.” Even if they appear to, she explains, these memories are fragile and susceptible to suggestion.


Last year, researchers from Yale University and the University of Arizona published a study in Psychological Science proclaiming that morality is more central to identity than memory. The authors studied patients with frontotemporal dementia (in which damage to the brain’s prefrontal cortex can lead to dishonesty and socially unacceptable behavior), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, which affects muscle control), and Alzheimer’s disease (which robs a person of memory). The research found that as long as moral capacity is not impaired, the self persists, even when memory is compromised. “These results speak to significant and longstanding questions about the nature of identity, questions that have occupied social scientists, neurologists, philosophers, and novelists alike,” the authors write.

The article is here.