Childhood is one of the best phases of one’s life, and it is a very important one as well. It is the time when our fond memories are made and most of the time in between the adult life we would like to relive the childhood, it is only possible if there are memories of this childhood. Similarly, childhood memories can also have an impact on the present adult life. The impact might be positive or negative. Childhood memories have unique qualities. The experimental psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist Endel Tulving refers to mental time travel which is a process that is unique for humans.
The Reason For People Not Having Memories Of Their Infancy
Changes in encoding, storage, and retrieval of memories during early childhood are all important when considering childhood amnesia. In 1972, Campbell and Spear published a seminal review about childhood amnesia in Psychological Sciences, reacapping the research conducted to understand this topic from a neurological and behavioral perspective in both human beings and animal models.
It is generally known that people in their adulthood is most likely do not remember their early stages of their childhood. Sometimes this condition is known as childhood amnesia, which is also called infantile amnesia it is nothing but the inability of adults to retrieve the memories before the age of two or four years, as well as the period before the age, adults have only fewer memories at that age. Some of the research shows that the children remember the memories of when they were one year old, but as time passes, these memories might get declined.
There was a new study conducted in the United States to find out why people, once they enter adulthood, will not be able to retrieve their childhood early memories. The professor of psychology at Yale University in New Haven, Conn, mentioned that the fundamental mystery of the human brain is that it won’t be able to retain early childhood memories, but still, it can retain other critical information like the first language, how to walk, favorite foods and object and social bonds. To understand the reason for this, the professor and his team, with the use of new fMRI technology, assess hippocampus activity in 17 babies aged 3 months to 2 years.
The hippocampus brain area is critical for encoding memory. There were two sets of images of the brains of the babies where one set of images shown to the babies appeared structured sequence hidden patterns which can be learned, while the other set of images were in random order and it was not able to learn.
After seeing both the sets of images, the baby’s hippocampus responded well to the set of images that were well structured than the random one. The finding suggests that the babies gain experience, their brain seeks general patterns that help them understand and predict the surrounding environment. This happens even though the baby’s brain is not able to store the information permanently as per the records that were published in the Journal Current Biology on May 21.
This specific function happens because acquiring general knowledge such as patterns of sounds that make up the language and maybe more important to the baby than retaining specific memories as per the research results. The size of the hippocampus doubles in size the first two years, and later it develops connections to save the necessary memories. The research also mentioned that as these circuits change, eventually, we obtain the ability to store the memories. Even though we won’t be able to retain the memories of early childhood, we learn from those experiences.