There's a good chance your first memory is not even real

19 Juillet, 2018, 02:09 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • There's a good chance your first memory is not even real

Academics at City, University of London have carried out one of the largest surveys of early memories ever conducted and discovered a large number of people have a first memory which is fictional.

Of the 6,641 people surveyed, 893 (roughly 13%) said their first memory dated back to age 1 or younger.

Current research shows that our earliest memories usually form around three to three-and-a-half years of age.

Participants' answers were analyzed by their age, language, the content of the memory and the nature of the memory described.

But scientists agree that our brain isn't developed enough to retain memories until we're 3 years old, so researchers wanted to know why so many people insist they remember anything before then.

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"When we looked through the responses from participants we found that a lot of these first "memories" were frequently related to infancy, and a typical example would be a memory based around a pram". Over time these fragments then become a memory and often the person will start to add things in such as a string of toys along the top.

"When people are told that their memories are false they often don't believe it", she said. "This is partly due to the fact that the systems that allow us to remember things are very complex, and it's not until we're five or six that we form adult-like memories due to the way that the brain develops and due to our maturing understanding of the world".

First author Dr Shazia Akhtar, from the University of Bradford, said: "We suggest that what a rememberer has in mind when recalling fictional improbably early memories is an episodic-memory-like mental representation consisting of remembered fragments of early experience and some facts or knowledge about their own infancy/childhood".

"Additionally, further details may be non-consciously inferred or added, eg that one was wearing a nappy when standing in the cot".

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