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Why can’t we remember early life?

Why can’t we remember early life?

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It's probably for the best that we don't remember being a baby.

Asked by: Karen Evans, Leeds

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Our inability to remember anything from before the age of three or four is referred to as infantile amnesia and it’s still fairly mysterious. We do know that infants can form long-term memories: chat to a three-year-old about past events and you’ll see for yourself.

In fact, one study showed that three-year-olds had a memory of an adult they’d met just once when they were aged one. But for some reason, likely related to the immaturity of infant memory processes, our earliest memories are lost by the time we are about seven years of age.

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Authors

Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.

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