Sorry Guys, Your Childhood Memories May Not Be Real
I just don't know what to believe anymore.
We hate to burst your bubble here, but that first memory you have of being a baby in a pram, playing with a dog in the park? You probably made it up.
According to a new study published in Psychological Science, people who reported memories before age of two may actually not remember the incidents they claim as their first memories at all. In other words -- no dog, no park.
"As many of these memories dated before the age of two, the authors suggest that these fictional memories are based on remembered fragments of early experience — such as a pram, family relationships, and feeling sad — and some facts or knowledge about their own infancy or childhood which may have been derived from photographs or family conversations," a press release about the study says.
Heartbreaking, isn't it?
According to established research, people's earliest memories are typically formed around three years of age.
But in a survey of more than 6,600 people, British scientists found that 39 percent of participants claimed to have from age two or younger, with some people even claiming to remember things from one or younger. These first memories are actually pretty likely to be false, the researchers said -- crushingly -- and are brought about by those things you have pieced together over time. Your brain then adopts this scenario as a memory.
And it's a pretty common thing. In the online survey, it turns out that nearly 2,500 people had somehow fabricated their first memories. According to Shazia Akhtar, a senior research associate at the University of Bradford in England who co-wrote the paper, these memories can be so ingrained that some people refuse to believe that the recollections are fictitious, even when informed of the science behind memory.
"For this person, this type of memory could have resulted from someone saying something like 'mother had a large green pram'. The person then imagines what it would have looked like," Professor Martin Conway, Director Centre for Memory and Law at City, University of London and co-author of the paper said. "Over time these fragments then becomes a memory and often the person will start to add things in such as a string of toys along the top."
"Crucially, the person remembering them doesn't know this is fictional. In fact when people are told that their memories are false they often don't believe it," Professor Conway explained further.
"We suggest that what a rememberer has in mind when recalling fictional, improbably early memories is … remembered fragments of early experience and some facts or knowledge about their own infancy or childhood," Shazia Akhtar said in the news release.
Be right back, just going to curl up in a corner and try and work out what is really true about life.
Feature Image: Universal Pictures.