Show Details

Early Memories

March 5, 2007

Why don’t you have memories from your babyhood? A scientist explains.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Why you can’t remember being a baby. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

How old were you in your earliest memory? For most people, it’s about three and a half. But psychologist Patricia Bauer of Duke University says that doesn’t mean younger children can’t make memories. She’s found that six-month-olds can remember how to put together a toy. Instead, the problem is that babies forget much faster than adults. As they get older, they can hold onto their memories far longer.

PATRICIA BAUER (Duke University):
So that what you have is that by the time kids are about three and a half years of age, they’re forming memories at a faster rate than they’re forgetting them and they’re holding onto them for a longer period of time. And as a result, we see this gradually increasing number of memories.

HIRSHON:
She adds that forgotten childhood memories seem to be truly lost—meaning nothing will be able to bring them back. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.