Small child

Why don't we remember anything from before my 3rd birthday?

Why don't we remember anything from before my 3rd birthday?


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What period of time does your first memory come from?

Are you sure it belongs to you, is it a figment of your imagination made after listening to family stories or viewing photos?

Scientists have long wondered why the vast majority of us do not remember anything from before their third birthday. The riddle has finally been solved.

Rapid growth of nerve cells

Today it is clear that "childhood amnesia" is caused by the rapid growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain's long-term memory region responsible for accumulating experience.

Children under the age of about three, even despite good memory, lose memories that blur in the long run and this is most dictated physiological changes. It is not possible to create lasting memories from the first months and years of life.

Slow development

Part of the brain responsible for memories, the hippocampus, matures slowly and most people do not fully mature until they reach the age of 3-4 years. Therefore, the memory of average two-year-olds is much smaller than that of three-year-olds and four-year-olds.

Paul Frankland, author of research on the development of a child's brain, suggests that the maturation of a huge number of new neurons in the hippocampus causes that creating new connections somehow "erase" previous ones. When the speed of brain development slows down, it can keep track of any changes and keep older connections.

To check the theory of Frankland slowed down brain development, or rather neurons in the hippocampus of mice. It turned out that small mice that know how to find the way to food in a maze after some time forget about where the right path goes. When the scientist slowed the development of neurons, it turned out that the mice created long-term memories and were able to pass the maze despite the passage of time.

Frankland is soon planning to test his theory by studying people. This is especially possible when observing children suffering from brain tumors who experience a slowdown in neuronal development during the administration of life-saving drugs (side effect). In this way, you can examine whether children after chemotherapy enjoy better memory than their healthy peers.

And from what period do your first memories come from?