Brain overload explains missing childhood memories

By | May 25, 2013

20130524-200439.jpgScientists – and parents – have long wondered why we don’t remember anything that happened before age 3. As all parents know, no matter how momentous an event is in a toddler’s life, the memory soon drifts away and within months there isn’t even a wisp of it left.

Now a new study shows that “infantile amnesia” may be due to the rapid growth of nerve cells in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for filing new experiences into long-term memory. The study was presented Friday at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience.

While youngsters do seem to remember important events for a short time after they occur, they lose these memories as time goes by, says study co-author Paul Frankland, a senior scientist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

“They can’t form stable memories of what happens in the first few years,” Frankland says. “I have a daughter who is 4 years old and because we were working on this study, I would always ask her questions about her memories of places we visited 2, 3 months ago. It’s clear that she can form memories with quite some detail. But four years from now she won’t remember anything.”…

I discovered I have some false memories of riding a bicycle in a driveway. The memory came from watching a movie of the event years later when I was older.

8 thoughts on “Brain overload explains missing childhood memories

  1. oliverthered

    I have some memories from dreams and a few other memories of germany where I lived at the time and when I was living with my grandparents after we came back and moving house a few times etc… all that was way before I went to school as I remember playschool (kindergarden) in germany and after we moved back and had moved house at least 4 times.

    I don’t remember much from the age of 5 till about 9 though as I had a trauma what I was 8.

    1. Xeno Post author

      I’m studying the reprogramming of trauma through memory modification right now and I believe this is a revolution of self help waiting to happen.

  2. oliverthered

    apparently I was just over the age of three when we came back. I do remember that I never used to recount memories when I was thinking about stuff much though.

  3. Michael

    Not meaning to sound like a braggart, but just mentioning this for the sake of argument: I remember an astonishingly high amount from even before age 1. I can from memory reconstruct the home and arrangement of furniture of a townhouse I lived in up to age 2. All of this has also been externally corroborated. I believe cognitive researchers should examine people who can remember details of their lives before age 3 and see what enables them to remember such details.

    1. Xeno Post author

      There are some huge variations in what some brains can do, so you may be of great interest to the researchers. I’d send them an email and see if they’d be interested in any cases that seem to differ from the results they reported.

  4. jim carlin

    actually-if the memory is associated with severe trauma or
    emotional upheaval-it is imprinted and changes the brain physiology
    be kind-everyone-even small children- are carrying a burden
    j carlin m d

    1. Xeno Post author

      True, but for those already damaged, I’m starting to believe that surprisingly few key memories creating our identity ( plus our emotional reactions, and behaviors ) can be adjusted. This works because our memories are actually reconstructed each time they are refreshed and our older memories change over time to fit in with the new information we acquire.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.