September 02, 2022 2 min read

(Leer en español)

Most adults cannot remember their childhood memories. But what happens to the memories that come at an early stage? Even if the human brain is so advanced at the age of two and three, why don’t we remember our infancy, an exceptionally sizable percentage of people do not remember what their childhood was like, nor what their first day of kindergarten was like.

Why do we forget our childhood memories?

The name of this strange memory loss is childhood amnesia that only affects memories before the age of 3-4, which fade around the age of 7-8 and then disappear completely. Of course, 3 years old knows what happened to him/her the day before, and a 6-year-old if these are memories that were memorable for the first three years. But these memories also disappear for ten years old and do not return as adults later.

Research showed that the first 3 years old had to recall events such as family outing or birthdays and then had to recall the same event between the ages of 5 and 9. Researchers have found that children between the ages of 6 and 7 are able to recall an average of 63 to 73 percent of their memories, while that percentage drops to 35 to 36 percent between the ages of 8 and 9.

The strongest explanation for this is neurologically based. In the first years of our live, especially between the ages of 6 and 10, a lot of new neurons are formed, especially in the hippocampus, which plays a role in memory function and spatial orientation. However, new connections between cells can disrupt this area and pathways to early memory are lost during the transformation of the existing neural network. Based on these, the old data becomes fragmented and as a result it becomes increasingly difficult for the brain to recall these memories, eventually becoming completely inaccessible or even erasing. Memories that are coupled with strong emotions may survive, but they are also exceedingly rare.

Why do we forget our childhood memories?

According to Sigmund Freud, the repression of early memories due to some emotional trauma that is too painful, for example, the pain may be caused by an adult from whom one would have preferred to trust, and the memories become unhappy by repression.

Why do we forget our childhood memories?

The human brain develops at an extremely rapid rate from conception, all the discoveries made by newborns and babies leave an imprint on the brain, so as already mentioned, new connections are made between brain cells and they are constantly being transformed, which makes the brain of a young child like a sponge that absorbs everything. Although our brain keeps the flexibility throughout our lives, plasticity is much stronger in the early years than after the of ten years.

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