Why do we remember childhood memories

Research: Why Our Earliest Childhood Memories Are Just Inventions

We all have precious memories of our earliest childhood days. But while these moments seem so real to us, most of them are pure fiction. The latest studies show that conversations about the past and the media manipulate our memory

The first few years in a person's life are invaluable, and memories of those times are usually associated with deep emotions. Even so, a UK study now suggests that our earliest childhood memories may be made up.

Researchers from City University in London, the University of Bradford and Nottingham Trent University asked 6,641 people about their first memories from their own lives. The results showed that almost 40 percent of the subjects reported experiences that they are said to have had when they were two years old or even earlier. 13 percent were able to reproduce detailed information about what happened when they were only a year old.

At the same time, neuroscientists have shown that early childhood memory only sets in from the end of the third year of life. A memory that extends into infancy is therefore completely excluded and physically impossible.

Our fellow human beings influence our memory

But where do the detailed descriptions from early childhood come from? Although the scientists asked their test subjects to report only events that they actively remembered, the majority of those questioned were only able to reconstruct false memories.

This was mainly noticeable in the description of her memory. The researchers' analysis was able to show that the test subjects described experiences that they supposedly had in their first years of life differently from those in adulthood. Early childhood memory differed fundamentally in terms of choice of words, content and the details described.

The reason for imagining our childhood memories are the people around us. Especially in childhood, parents are considered to be the first and most influential authority. At family get-togethers or when rummaging through old children's albums, they like to tell of those moments that we had long forgotten as babies. And yet their words, just like old photos or video recordings, shape our self-image and ultimately create false memories in our heads.

Another explanation for the false memory is the possible misjudgment of the test persons when the described experiences occurred. Accordingly, it could possibly be real memories, which, however, took place at a much later age.

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