Show Details

Early Memories

March 5, 2007

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


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.

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.