At what age do you remember your first memory? Most people would say around 3 or 4, or maybe even 5. However, what is the science behind memories, and when do they start?
While most would probably say at least 3 or 4 or 5, as it turns out, it is much sooner. In a recent study that was published in the journal Memory, researchers discovered that people can remember things that took place as far back as 2.5 years of age. Before this study, estimates had shown that this happened a little later.
Additionally, the study discovered that we have a “pool of potential memories” that we can recall memories from. Furthermore, when we are first asked about our memories they can sometimes be hard to recall, however, this study showed that when we are pressed about them often, we may be able to unearth even more.
Researcher Carole Peterson, Phd., who is a professor of psychology at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, made a major analysis of research that looked at childhood amnesia. She also looked at data that had been analyzed in her lab over the years.
Based on her analysis, she discovered that our earliest memories can be traced back to the age of around 2.5. Before this analysis, researchers had estimated around the age of 3.5.
“This article explored the idea of infantile amnesia—this is an idea that researchers have considered for years and it states that people do not remember much (or anything) from their first 2 to 3 years of life,” David Copeland, Ph.D. of psychology and associate professor of the Univerity of Nevada stated. “This line of research is suggesting that we might have memories a little bit earlier than that.”
Another conclusion drawn from this study is that even at a super early age, we are impacted by our environment. “The fact that recalling memories is a challenge and that this study gives permission for this to be acceptable helps validate that we may not ever know some details, like dates and times, but that it does not take away from the fact that we experienced or felt what we did and that it impacts us.” Cassandra Fallon, LMFT and therapist at Thriveworks explained the study.