The Forgotten Childhood: Why Early Memories Fade

NPR:

Francis Csedrik, who is 8 and lives in Washington, D.C., remembers a lot of events from when he was 4 or just a bit younger. There was the time he fell “headfirst on a marble floor” and got a concussion, the day someone stole the family car (“my dad had to chase it down the block”), or the morning he found a black bat (the furry kind) in the house.

But Francis looks puzzled when his mom, Joanne Csedrik, asks him about a family trip to the Philippines when he was 3. “It was to celebrate someone’s birthday,” she tells him. “We took a long plane ride, two boat trips,” she adds. Francis says he doesn’t remember.

That’s a classic example of a phenomenon known as childhood amnesia. “Most adults do not have memories of their lives for the first 3 to 3 1/2 years,” says Patricia Bauer, a professor of psychology at Emory University.

Scientists have known about childhood amnesia for more than a century. But it’s only in the past decade that they have begun to figure out when childhood memories start to fade, which early memories are most likely to survive, and how we create a complete autobiography without direct memories of our earliest years.

Read the whole story: NPR

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