My daughter is 44 months old. She vividly recalls experiences without me prompting her. I’ll reinforce her memory by acknowledging and talking about the event. She’ll provide more details that I didn’t bring up and aren’t an obvious stated cause / predicted effect. She can commonly recall events from at least 8 months ago; however has no memory of events that occurred when she was 23 months old.
Will she remember these events (that occurred at roughly 36 months old) as she ages? Will they be lost to childhood amnesia? You can generalize for generic children rather than trying to predict for this one child.
Some of it. They remember weird stuff though. She may end up with no memory at all of that 2 week trip to the Grand Canyon when she [insert elaborate once in a lifetime Memorex Moment here], but one day she’ll ask you if you remember that squirrel that ran up the tree one time at the park next to your house, or the time when she paid for her own ice cream cone.
I basically remember nothing from before I was 5. Snippets of images, brief “clips” of certain events. If you put all the snippets together, it might represent an hour of my life in total. Also at times it is hard to distinguish between what I actually remember and stories that people have told me so many times it feels like I remember those events.
Finally, my parents have told me that some of my fairly distinct memories are actually pastiches of several events that didn’t happen at the same time.
My kids are 11 and 12. Their memories fade with time, just like ours. Sometimes they still pull incredible stuff out of nowhere, but when asked if they remember certain things that they once used to remember, they draw a blank, or have a hard time with details.
it’s strange the things that stick in your memory (or don’t).
I asked my mom once about a really clear memory I had of a dark room and being sat leaning up against a blue striped chair right in front of the TV. It was just a single moment of feeling weird leaning up against the chair leg and the brightness of the TV, but to this day I can see the whole memory.
My mom remembered it too, it was November 22, 1963 and I was just shy of one year old.
But for the life of me I can’t remember a single thing about 2nd grade.
Memory can be weird. I did not speak English till I was four. But I clearly remember things happening to me before then as being in English. I remember my babysitter who spoke only Serbo-Croatian, but I remember that as being in English.
Somewhat oddly, because my mother and father didn’t allow me to speak Serbo-Croat once I begin English training, I can’t understand it nor speak it now.
I’ve been able to demonstrate to the satisfaction of my reasonably skeptical parents that I have many memories from younger than four and a fair collection from younger than three. However, the memories are nearly all visual–what articles of clothing looked like and things like that. Any narrative is very fragmentary. I’m something of a visual thinker; my guess is that that made my lack of well developed language less important for solidifying the memories.
Interestingly enough what experienced is pretty well described. Children adopted from other cultures (the biggest literature being of Russian adoptees to America) tend to be serially monolingual. They fairly quickly pick up English to the level that they were speaking their native language in and, at the same time, forget how to speak in the native language.
As far as childhood amnesia goes - it is a difficult thing to sort out. Are memories really lost, or is it that the pointer mechanism has a harder time pointing to them as it matures? Without out doubt we relay much more on verbal mechanisms for our autobiographical memory (and our ongoing personal thoughts in general) as we get to school age and above and less on thinking in other perceptual modalities, like pictures and smells even. Using that verbal process to point to memories stored as something that was experienced much less verbally, if at all, seems likely to be less effective the more it becomes the prime accessing modality.
Again, I am not so sure that they disappear, so much as that our increasingly verbal internal selves have a hard time accessing the pointer that gets to them. (Generally the hippocampus and its associated structures are thought of as serving the role of pointer as well as other memory related functions.) Which fits with Visual Purple’s anecdotal experience.
I think it depends; I remember some things VERY clearly from when I was about 2-3 years old.
For example, I was born in September 1972, and I distinctly remember that the neighborhood fire hydrants were painted in Bicentennial themes (little minutemen, etc…) preceding the Bicentennial in July 1976. Not that I recall the date, but I do remember my parents and I walking around the neighborhood looking at them, and me being about the same height as the hydrants.
As far as a fairly coherent internal narrative goes, that didn’t start until slightly before school started when I was about 5.
More on Markxxx’s language experience. And I suspect it really is not a hijack – the idea that one sort of processing takes over the circuitry from another, and results in catastrophic forgetting of the first, may similarly occur as we switch to a more verbal run internal thought process for autobiographical information and for accessing it, from a less verbal experience of the world in the preschool years. It’s very interesting stuff.
And agreed with the two last posts that actually are discussing the same thing. Not explicitly remembering that something occurred dies not mean that something did not have significant influence on your life.
This something I worry about. My 2 older kids are 7 and 5 and my maternal grandparents died the last 2 years. Whenever there’s an opportunity I try to get them to remember them to hlpefully reinforce their memories. My older daughter has great-grandma’s knitting needles and I hope that they help them retain memories. If they grab a flashlight I try to remind them that great-grandpap always let them play with flashlights when they were little.
It’s great that they had the opportunity to know their great-grandparents (my other grandmother is still alive and we visit her in a alzheimer’s home but it’s not the same-there’s little joy and they are more confused by her oddities than anything) but it would be a shame if they forgot.