Why Can’t You Remember Being a Baby?
When people ask you if you remember being a baby, your answer will obviously be no. It is quite impossible for you to remember anything before the age three. The process of forgetting these early childhood memory is called ‘childhood amnesia’. Our brains develop as we grow up and this process helps in that regard. This amnesia sets in around ages eight and nine. So before reaching this age, kids can remember some early childhood memories. But childhood amnesia can’t be framed just by the passage of time. So when you are 30, you probably can remember things that happened when you were 10 but when you are 20, you probably will not be able to remember being an infant. On the bright side there are some things that stay with us even if we learn them at a very young age, for example, language or motor skills. We mostly forget specific episodes or events of our lives.
Scientists opine that childhood amnesia might have something to do with the way our brains change between infancy and adulthood. Some parts of our brains take a long time to develop after our birth. Hippocampus is also an organ like that which helps us form and store episodic memories. New brain cells called neurons are regularly produced in the Hippocampus even as adults. Our brains produce a lot of new neurons a lot faster even as a growing child.
The Real Problem
So to know the impact of the brain cells’ growth on our memory, a research team from Toronto used adult mice and made their Hippocampus produce more new neurons, the results showed that the mice became more forgetful, they started to forget memories just like humans and their childhood amnesia. But as scientists slowed down the growth of new brain cells, the mice forgot less of their childhood. So the common question that would arise is that how can making new brains cells be bad for the memory? Well it’s not bad in the long term and that is what let us keep making new episodic memories as adults. But to fit all the new neurons in your hippocampus while being young could cause a problem. The old memory cells shuffle with the new memory cells and this make it harder for the brain to find the place where earlier memories were kept. These memories might get erased completely.
But all our memories are not kept in hippocampus so this doesn’t explain everything about childhood amnesia. The amygdala and the prefrontal cortex are also some parts that are involved in memory. In order to seeing if these parts also make different amounts of neurons when we’re children compared to when we’re adults . So even if we don’t know much about childhood amnesia, we know that it happens to everyone.
Transcripted by Benazir Elahee Munni