Your earliest memories could be FAKE

Anything you can recall before the age of two is likely to be fictional because it's too early in your brain's development, scientists claim

 If your earliest memory took place before your second birthday – it's probably fictional, researchers claim.

According to the latest findings, around 40 per cent of us mistakenly believe we remember an event from our first two years, according to Daily Mail.

However, these recollections were likely created after seeing photos or hearing recollections from others, scientists say.

In the largest ever study on early memory, 6,641 people were questioned about their first recollection.

Participants in the study were told the memory should not be linked to photos of themselves, a family story, or any other source apart from direct experience.

The authors said 60 per cent of first memories were from the average age of 3.24 years – matching research showing this is when we develop the mental faculties to form memories.

But nearly 39 per cent of people – 2,487 – claimed to have memories from between the age of one and two. And 893 claimed their first memory was from their first year – an ‘astonishingly’ high number, the authors said.

These memories included ‘the first time I walked’, ‘wanting to tell my mother something before I could talk’, and ‘the first word I spoke’.

The authors said for older people, impossibly early memories could be explained by a need to ‘complete’ the story of their life to stretch back to their earliest years.

Analysing the memories, the authors said 52 per cent of memories from below the age of two were of ‘lying in my pram’.

They said 30 per cent were about family relationships such as ‘my parents were going on holiday’ and a further 18 per cent remembered ‘feeling sad’. For ‘probable memories’ above the age of two, 20 per cent of people remembered toys, 16 per cent recalled the birth of a sibling, 15 per cent remembered school, and 11 per cent remembered holidays.

Professor Martin Conway, of City, University of London and co-author of the paper, said: ‘In our study we asked people to recall the very first memory that they actually remembered, asking them to be sure that it wasn’t related to a family story or photograph.

‘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.

‘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. 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.

‘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.’ He added: ‘It’s not until we’re five or six that we form adult-like memories due to the way that the brain develops.’

N.H.Kh