Why Do Not We Remember Our Childhood Memories?

Why Do Not We Remember Our Childhood Memories?

The Phenomenon Of Infantile Forgetfulness Explains Why You Can Not Remember Being Born, Learning To Walk, Or Speaking For The First Time.

“Whenever I teach memory in a child development class at Rutgers University, I first ask my students to recall their first memories,” says Vanessa Lobo, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University. Some talk about the first day before kindergarten; Others talk about when they were hurt or upset, and some quote the birthday of their younger sibling.

Despite the many differences in their details, these memories have a few things in common: they are all autobiographies or memories of essential life experiences and usually did not occur before the age of two or three.

Most people can not remember the events of the first years of their lives. Researchers call this phenomenon “neonatal forgetfulness.” But why can’t we remember what happened to us in infancy? Does memory start working at a certain age?

Babies can create memories.

Even though humans can not recall memories before two or three, research shows that infants can create memories that are not the kind of memories you describe.

In the first few days of life, babies can remember their mother’s face and distinguish it from a Western look. A few months later, babies can show that they retain many familiar faces by smiling more in front of the faces they often see.

In fact, in addition to autobiographical memory, there are other types of memory. One type of memory is semantic memory or memories of attributes, such as the names of different varieties of apples or the capitals of countries. Another type of memory is process memory or memories of how to do something, such as opening an entrance or driving.

Research conducted by Carolyn Rovi Kalier ‘s psychologist’s laboratory in the 1980s and 1990s showed that some memories are formed early in infants. Of course, babies can not tell you what they remember.

Therefore, the key to Rovi Kallir’s research was to develop a task sensitive to infants’ rapidly changing bodies and abilities so that they can assess their memory over long periods.

In a version designed for infants 2 to 6 months old, researchers place the baby in a cradle with hangers over his head. They measure how often a child kicks to determine their natural tendency to move their legs.

Babies quickly learn to control the pendant. They like the movement of the charm and therefore kick more than before. Next, they tie a string from the baby’s foot to the end of the hanger so that the hanger can move whenever the child kicks.

It shows that they have learned that kicking causes the pendant to move.

The version for babies 6 to 18 months old is similar, but instead of lying in the crib, which this age group does not do for a long time, the baby sits on his parent’s skirt and puts his hands on the lever, which eventually causes The toy train can move in any direction.

At first, the lever does not work, and the testers measure the baby’s normal pressure. Then they turn on the lever. Every time the child presses the lever, the train moves in its path. Children quickly learn to play again and put more pressure on the lever as the train moves.

What does this have to do with the memory?

The most brilliant part of this research is that after teaching the babies to do these tasks for a few days, Rover Collier later tested whether they remembered it. When the babies returned to the lab, the researchers showed them the pendant or train and examined whether they were still kicking to move the charm or pushing the lever to move the train.

Using this method, Rovi Kalier and colleagues found that at six months, if trained babies for one minute, they could remember the event the next day. The older the babies, the longer they remembered the event.

He also found that educating infants for a more extended period and showing them reminders could help them remember events for longer, For example, by delivering a pendant that moves briefly and independently.

What causes infant forgetfulness?

If babies can make memories in the first few months of life, why not remember the events of the early stages of life?

It is not yet clear whether the cause of infant forgetfulness is that we can not create autobiographical memories or that we have no way of retrieving them. No one knows for sure what will happen, but scientists have speculation.

One is that the formation of autobiographical memories requires that you have some understanding of yourself and that you should be able to think about your behavior toward others.

Researchers have tested this ability using a mirror detection task called a “dipstick test.” The experiment dates back to the 1970s and involves marking a child’s nose with red lipstick. Researchers then place the child in front of a mirror. Children under 18 months only smile at the baby in the mirror and do not show any behavior that indicates that they have recognized themselves or the red mark on their face.

Between 18 and 24 months, a toddler touches his nose and even looks embarrassed, indicating that he has attached a red dot in the mirror to his face. At this stage, it seems that they have some understanding of themselves.

Another possible explanation for infant forgetfulness is that because infants do not have a language (speaking) until the end of the second year of life, they can not create narratives about their lives that they can recall later. Another theory is that the hippocampus, an area of ​​the brain primarily responsible for memory, did not fully develop in infancy.

Scientists will continue to explore how these factors may play a role in forgetting life before age two.