• Question: why cant we remember our early childhood memories ?

    Asked by eliciamcnally to Hannah, Ian, Jono, Mark on 26 Jun 2013. This question was also asked by chloefernee.
    • Photo: Hannah Brotherton

      Hannah Brotherton answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi eliciamcnally,
      So scientists have shown we don’t remember anything before the age of 3. i am kinda glad, because I don’t want to remember wearing a nappy lol

      So as a brain scientist, I learn’t a lot about memory. We think we can’t remember early childhood because of something called “infantile amnesia”. Our brains are growing really fast when we are young. But the memory part of our brain hippocampus (it doesn’t have anything to do with a hippo 😛 ), doesn’t grow as fast and doesn’t grow fully until we are 3.

      So we think the brain has adapted to put all its energy into other parts of the brain, because we don’t really need memories when we are little. This is why the memory part of our brain grows the slowest.


    • Photo: Mark Hodson

      Mark Hodson answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi eliciamcnally,

      because the neurons in our brain are still growing and connecting. Also, I suspect that some aspects of childhood are so confusing that we “chose” to forget them



    • Photo: Ian Wilson

      Ian Wilson answered on 26 Jun 2013:

      Hi eliciamcnally and chloefernee,

      That’s a good question. This weird lack of memory is called ‘childhood amnesia’. It happens because the part of our brain needed for memory storage – the limbic system – is not fully formed at that age. Our brains grow as we get older, and the limbic system starts to work properly, but it doesn’t hold memories for the first 1 to 2 years of our lives.