It is known that most adults do not have any memories of the early years of their life. A new psychological study tries to answer the question: at what age and why early childhood memories begin to fade and then disappear.
Scientists have found that childhood amnesia – this is how this phenomenon is called – starts at the age of about seven years. Three-year-old kids remember the events that happened a year earlier, which are stored in their memory till the age of 5-6 years, but from the age of seven, the past begins to blur.
By eight or nine years, children keep in memory only about 35% of the events that occurred to them before the age of three. The latest research states that at this age, the human brain begins to form memories differently than in early childhood.
Up to the age of seven years, the events are imprinted in one’s memory without a clear perception of space and time. Older children memorize things in the same way as grown-ups do and can recall not only what happened but also where and when the event took place.
Psychology professor Patricia Bauer of Emory University (USA) and her colleagues spent several years conducting a number of studies, the results of which were recently published in the journal Memory.
The scientists studied 83 children from the age of three. When the kids first visited the research lab of the University, they talked about the six recent events in their lives: country trips, visits to the zoo, the first day of kindergarten, a birthday party…
A few years later, the children were questioned again about the same things and were asked to tell the details of the events they had talked about during the first visit.
The scientists found that kids from 5 to 7 years old were able to recall the details of 63-72% of all the events that occurred to them in early childhood. But after the age of 8 years, the amount of recalled information slipped to 35%.
The researchers noted the difference between the details that the children were and were not able to recall. Three-year kids usually did not mention the place and time of an event, while the older children did.
Moreover, the events for which it was difficult to determine where and when they occurred were completely erased from the children’s memory.
As a rule, most adults don’t remember their early childhood well enough – if we don’t consider less common instances, such as people with an exceptional memory. Now you know why your early childhood memories are so vague or completely non-existent.
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