Which childhood memories do you remember exactly?
The little question: How far back does the memory go?
Even infants have a short-term memory: For example, they remember their mother's face. Brain researchers and psychologists are not entirely in agreement about when exactly a person is able to store long-term experiences for the first time. There are hardly any long-term studies on the question. The developmental neuropsychologist Sarah Weigelt from the University of Bochum assumes, like many of her colleagues, that you can only remember back to an age of two years at the earliest.
Solid memories go back to the age of five
However, only very few people are able to do this - and they can usually only vaguely remember. For most people, the first stable memories come from the fifth or sixth year of life - be it the last year of kindergarten or school enrollment. Researchers believe that three things are necessary for us to be able to remember in the long term.
Important brain functions mature from the age of two
The so-called hippocampus, which is located deep inside the brain, plays an important role in the long-term storage and retrieval of memory content. This structure is only sufficiently mature after about two years. Therefore, it is considered very unlikely that adults can remember their first two years of life or birth. Also from the age of two, the child develops an understanding of his or her identity - an important prerequisite for being able to link memory contents with himself.
Sensory impressions help to remember
At the same time, language is also developing - another prerequisite for autobiographical memory. The child learns to abstract and generalize and can process sensory impressions better and better. Events associated with an intense smell, taste or feeling are particularly easy to remember.
Conversations about experiences solidify the memory
Until when you can remember depends on various factors and is different for everyone. Why this is so has not yet been conclusively researched. When parents talk to their children about special experiences, this certainly helps to ensure that memory traces are memorized in the long term. Sometimes, however, the brain also deceives us and the stories of the parents have supposedly become memories of our own.
The ability to remember is not the same as the ability to remember
What is certain is that autobiographical memory is independent of our ability to remember other things. So if you have hardly any memories of your childhood, you might be able to remember names, faces or phone numbers all the better.
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