Memories, Childhood, Childhood Memories, Brain Function

Memories, Childhood

Earliest Childhood Memories Can Go Back Even Further

Most people likely have more childhood memories than they think -- and they could go back even further than previously believed.

8/3/2021 6:30:00 AM

Most people likely have more childhood memories than they think -- and they could go back even further than previously believed.

People remember events earlier in childhood than previously thought, according to new research that shows recall can be as early as age 2 and a half.

Aug. 2, 2021 -- Most people probably have more early childhood memories than they are fully aware of, and retrieving those early experiences is easier to prompt than previously thought, according to Carole Peterson, MD, of Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, Canada.

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Most people have more memories from their preschool years than is widely believed, says Peterson, who has been studying childhoodamnesia— the total or relative lack of early memory — for more than 20 years."We had this model that there was one memory that essentially is the beginning, the watershed, the boundary, and that's the start of your event memory," explains Peterson. But most people likely have more childhood memories than they are currently recalling and could go back even further, says Peterson, who recently wrote

a reviewof research into early memory.When people are asked to recall more memories, they often start self-cueing and are able retrieve even earlier events. In fact, Peterson's research has shown that a person's earliest memories — confirmed by parents — often occurred a year earlier than reported, so at an average of 2-and-a-half years of age, rather than 3-and-a-half.

Memories from Age 2-and-a-HalfMental error with inaccurate perceptions of time is called the telescope effect and happens when people recall the timing of an event differently than when it actually happened, Peterson explains."People develop a life story that gives their life meaning," says Peterson."It's who they are, what they are. Their early events go into that life story."

If memories play an important role in our sense of self, then understanding memory is important, too, she adds. Read more: WebMD »

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