Things You Didn’t Know About Memory

A baby mobile above a crib

A baby mobile above a crib
Image: TobinCStudio (Shutterstock)

A 2018 study, for instance, found that many people’s first memories likely never happened as remembered. Specifically, around 40% of people in the study recalled their first memory occurring before the age of two, while 15% recalled it before the age of one. But experts generally agree that our brains simply don’t form long-term memories before the age of three, at least ones that we can remember as adults.

These implausible childhood memories, as the study authors call them, are likely people’s unconscious attempt to create a neat narrative of their lives. Oftentimes, these faux memories will feature mundane, age-appropriate events, like getting tucked into a crib, whereas later, more likely to be real, childhood memories might reflect an impactful experience, like meeting your baby sibling for the first time.

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