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Q: Why can't we remember our early childhood? ( No Answer,   9 Comments )
Subject: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
Category: Science > Social Sciences
Asked by: tethered-ga
List Price: $8.00
Posted: 15 Dec 2005 20:26 PST
Expires: 14 Jan 2006 20:26 PST
Question ID: 606396
What events are most likely to seperate one's early childhood and
infant memories from those during one's late childhood, teenage, and
adult years?  Why can't one remember being born and being an infant?

A few of us had this discussion recently and were unable to find any
conclusive sources based on this subject, but have some ideas on what
the answer could be.

One of us thinks that once we learn to speak or think verbally there
becomes a barrier that seperates pre-lingual from post-lingual
thought.  Another thinks that once we are old enough to wonder about
our early moments we have already made new connections in our mind,
reducing the ability to pull back memories from that time.  Perhaps we
utilize our minds to retain basic functions until survival is less
difficult, reducing the ability to do much else.

Any information regarding this subject such as research papers,
debates, discussions (professional or personal) would be great. Any
timeframe on this answer is fine.
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: milesc-ga on 15 Dec 2005 21:01 PST
This is far from an answer, but it may atleast be interesting to you:,5753,-2899,00.html

Specifically the entry by David Sant of Oxford.

Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: myoarin-ga on 16 Dec 2005 03:10 PST
I have several images from the second year of my life (especially the
time I put a bobby pin in a wall socket!) and one from before my first
Of course, I am a great believer in the theory that having such early
memories is a sign of higher intelligence.  ;)  I hide the fact so as
not to upset those who can't remember anything pre-school age.

Perhaps one reason people can remember very early events is if they
occurred in different surrounding from those in later years, say,
before moving at age two.  The visual images remain and can be
separated from later events, whereas the earlier events (usually not
very memorable, per se) in an unchanged family/house environment don't
have this "tag" to mark them.

Just my opinion, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: answerfinder-ga on 16 Dec 2005 04:04 PST
This is not my area of knowledge but glancing through book it is
argued that an infant has a developing and changing brain structure
and it is not until the creation of declarative memory that such
memories are retained. However, this is open to debate. Perhaps an
investment in this book may provide you with a good summary of the
current position.

Perhaps another reseracher may be able to assist you.
Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: milesc-ga on 16 Dec 2005 12:14 PST
I've often thought that I could remember some of my early childhood
events, such as my second birthday.  The part I specifically remember
is getting a Buzzey Bee toy from my parents and subsequently riding
around on it.  However, I recently realized that my parents had video
taped this event and I had most likely witnessed it again some time in
the near future, probably late into my 3rd or 4th year, after I had
developed more oratory skills.  I think it might be possible, and this
is just my theory here, that a young child viewing pictures or video
of himself not too long after they actually happened but after the
development of a new skill set, language in this case, may be able to
link the events they're witnessing on the video back to the non
descript images in their memory.  Or it might be possible that instead
of linking the two memories together, the child doesn't yet understand
the concept of video and just registers the memory of seeing himself
playing in video as it concurrently happening... so basically, I just
might remember seeing the video and not the actual event.

Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: steph53-ga on 16 Dec 2005 16:01 PST
I can remember as clear as day, being in my stroller and my sister
letting it go while walking down on a steep road. I remember seeing
her laughing face at scaring me like that!!!

When I was about 12, she locked me in a dark broom closet :(

As a grown up today, I have a fear of heights and severe claustrophobia....

Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: braitman-ga on 16 Dec 2005 16:24 PST
One thing that may be happening, in at least some cases of "early"
memory, is that something is remembered sometime later. Then one
remembers the memory. And so on, into adulthood. I have a few early
childhood memories, mostly images, and knowing that I've told folks
over the years about these, I honestly can't say I really remember
them as felt memory anymore, just as retold tales.
Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: myoarin-ga on 16 Dec 2005 17:38 PST
I agree with Milesc-ga about reinforced memories, maybe photos in
pre-video days.  I have a couple of those too, but I know some are not
of that type, though they returned and were confirmed when as a
teenager the general situation was mentioned.  We were talking about a
trip when I was almost one, and that I had been in a bassinet on the
front seat, and then I remembered that I had scratched at the chipped
paint on the glove compartment, which was confirmed, but was not a
detail ever previously mentioned.
Concerning the prenatal memories mentioned in Milesc's first posting,
I have to ask, do unborn infants open their eyes?  But it was a very
interesting site,
and a very interesting question.
Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: mikomoro-ga on 16 Dec 2005 22:47 PST
I have a clear memory of being in my cot and being fascinated by the
pattern of the paper on the ceiling of my bedroom. For some reason, my
area of vision was limited to a small circle and I regularly followed
the pattern across the ceiling. I guess that when my circle of vision
became wide enough I started taking an interest in other things.
Unfortunately, I have no way of dating this event.
Subject: Re: Why can't we remember our early childhood?
From: techtor-ga on 17 Dec 2005 08:35 PST
Maybe this article will be of help:

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