Commentary| Volume 62, ISSUE 10, P1067-1069, November 15, 2007

The Enduring Impact of Perceptual Memories

      How the perceptual/sensory memories of infants and young children endure long into adulthood has been the subject of much clinical speculation and artistic expression from Proust’s evocative madeleine to Truman Capote’s Christmas memories of making and delivering fruitcakes with his beloved Sook. What makes each of these literary accounts notable is the relation between early stress and loss in the children’s/authors’ lives and their enduring memories strongly rooted in olfactory and other sensory cues. In this issue, Sevelinges et al. (pages 1070–1079) bring basic science to these descriptions. Their report on the long-term effects of infant memories on adult learning and stress response adds an important new line of work to a growing literature on the enduring effect of early stressors on adult functioning. This report also has important implications for clinicians and clinical investigators.
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