Science-type peeps have some up with some science-type research on ‘infantile amnesia‘ or, put simply, why we don’t have memories about being a baby.
For some time it has been believed that we forget because before age three, the brain’s hippocampus (the region of the brain that is associated with memories and learning) is not developed enough. Others say it’s connected to language development: once we can talk, we can shape events into a story that can be retold and remembered which kind of makes sense, however now scientists have found the first evidence of a physical mechanism to explain why those memories evade us.
A study released even more recently (in November 2014) has revealed babies are prone to remember positive events over neutral or negative ones. Scientists tested babies as young as five months old, and discovered that the infants could more easily remember something that gave them a positive emotion, than something that made them upset.
There’s just not enough room in the filing cabinet
We mammals generate new brain cells all the time, but when we’re babies the rate of this process, known as neurogenesis, is at its highest. Because of all the new things we experience as infants, there’s a lot of early-life action in the hippocampus. Basically what this means is all the new cells being formed in our young brains are crowding out the circuits that hold our memories, effectively deleting them – Men In Black neuralyzer style.
10 reasons why you might want to forget being a baby
Before all of these biological explanations abounded, Sigmund Freud believed we repress early memories because they are too painful, and I reckon he may just been onto something. Being a baby can suck … big time – therefore I present to you my Top Ten reasons for ‘infantile amnesia’:
- Babydom comes with a lack of body awareness. For example: Babies tend to lead with their head, using it as a bumper when testing out new territory – a pain best left forgotten.
- A baby boy might also test the elasticity of certain body body parts once released from the confines of a nappy - those particular s-t-re-t-c-h-e-s are probably best left unremembered.
- Strangers move in close to your face, sometimes nuzzling your neck or squeezing your cheeks. When the strangers are whiskery and smell of Lily of the Valley it’s no wonder the memories are repressed.
- Do you have fond memories of someone licking a tissue and aggressively wiping a mark from your face? No? Didn’t think so.
- While I’m sure my mother has lovely nipples, I doubt I’d want to remember getting up close and personal with them … in my mouth.
- Growing boobs later in life was exciting – if a little bit awkward. Growing teeth as a baby – not so much … best wipe those memories from the bank.
- Nobody likes being humiliated – baby humiliation comes in many varied forms: pooey pants, dodgy fashions, hideous headwear, compromising photos, also refer point 4.
- Hey, remember that time someone hauled you up by the ankles and started swiping at your nether regions with a wet wipe? Of course not, that memory has been zapped for good reason.
- Imagine how awful it would be to sit at a dining establishment watching everybody else chow down on delicious cuisine while you were served something that had been stewed and mashed beyond recognition. Repress.
- Now here’s the humdinger … Birth. Ain’t nobody got room in the memory bank for that first vision.