Why Can’t We Remember Being a Baby?


Why Can’t We Remember Being a Baby?

Scientists, psychologists, and philosophers have long wondered why we can’t remember being babies. Freud thought we repressed our early memories. Others have theorized that we can't remember our early life because we couldn't yet speak. Some have said that it is because babies lack a sense of self. But it turns out that other animals are also missing memories of their infant lives, a discovery that sent scientists looking for another explanation.

Recent research may have found the answer, as reported in Scientists Have Discovered Why You Can't Remember Being a Baby (mic.com): “When new cells sprout in young brains, they crowd out the circuits where memories are formed.”


So the reason you remember your best friend's wedding day but can't seem to recall the time you decorated your hair with mashed potatoes is because making new memories destroys the older snapshots.


When researchers experimented with mice, they found that when they slowed down their ability to make new brain cells, they helped them craft more solid memories. Conversely, when they sped up their brain-cell-generation, the critters had a harder time remembering. In other words, more new brain cells meant fuzzier memories, and less new brain cells meant clearer ones.


This may seem backward, but the study’s leader, Dr. Paul Frankland, explains, “Some kind of forgetting is important for memory. There's finite capacity. You want to get rid of all the junk, and you want to remember the important features and important events.”


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