If you think you remember things right away – think again. Literally! Memory does not happen right away. You don’t just experience something and it will automatically go to your long-term memory so you can recall it when you want. There is a process involved, and not everything ends up in memory. As a matter of fact, most of what you experience ends up in the trash.

Our memory starts to develop from the second we are born, but since our brains are not developed yet, and we have no point of reference, we have to develop it. We learn by repetition, so the more we hear a voice, or feel a loving touch, or smell a specific fragrance the easier it will be for us to hold it in our memory.

As infants babies learn by repetition. They learn that when they cry someone will come and pick them up or react to them. By six months they can remember familiar objects, like bottles and crib, and by 12 months they can identify objects that are not related to their care. At six months they can remember an object for a few hours, at nine months they can remember an object for a month.

The more they learn to communicate and build words and vocabulary, the longer their memory will become. Before the age of three, it’s likely that a child will forget more than he/she remembers -and unlikely that any memories will be permanent. At that age their memory is longer. By the fourth year most children don’t fully understand what memory is, but they are likely to say they forgot something.

These first years are when our brains develop the fastest, we are learning to coordinate our limbs, learn language, and communicate. That doesn’t necessarily mean our brains are fully developed yet, however, that won’t completely happen until the mid-20s.

An article in the journal, Child Development, reported that researchers from Saarland University in Germany have found that memory is something that develops slowly, from birth to adulthood.

Children, adolescents and young adults were given a two-part memory test by the researchers. Electroencephalogram caps were fitted to their heads that measured neural activity. Images were shown on a computer screen and they were asked to take note of images that they are seeing for the first time, and those that have been repeated. The second part of the test, similar to the first, but they were asked to mark the pictures they had seen in the first set.

Generally the results showed that memory performance improved with age, but from the second group of tests the researchers found that children were weak in their ability to trace the source of memory.

Adults and adolescents performed equally well, but the significant difference was that the adults showed a sophisticated pattern in activity when they were retrieving source memory information, according to the study’s lead author, Volker Sprondel, a psychologist at Saarland. According to him, if measuring behavioral activity alone they would have found a big difference in brain activity between adolescents and adults. The findings suggest, he added, that when children and adolescents are asked to testify, the reliability of their source memory – for example, recalling the first time a certain person was encountered, and where – should be carefully questioned.


About the author:

Ron White is a two-time U.S.A. Memory Champion. As a memory keynote speaker he travels the world to speak before large groups or small company seminars, demonstrating his memory skills and teaching others how to improve their memory, and how important a good memory is in all phases of your life.



Fisher Price: How Memory Develops: http://www.fisher-price.com/fp.aspx?st=10&e=expertadvice&content=36350

Memory Process Takes Years to Fully Develop: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/science/06memory.html?_r=1