Sunday, July 08, 2012
Our two lovely ladies are still not willing to speak to us. They have however developed other communication channels, or maybe I've just become good at guessing what they want. They now both have four molars and Gloria finally gets her missing front teeth (the outer ones on the bottom, nicely visible in the photo to the right).
The developing brain of the human infant is a mystery as well as a miracle, and one of the least well understood properties of this development is childhood amnesia, the fact that adults' earliest memories normally dates back to the age of 2-4 years, but not before that. We do learn many things before that age of course which remain with us, but they do not come in the form of episodic memory, in which we realize our self being in a certain situation. What exactly is the reason for childhood amnesia, and what are the functions necessary for the formation of episodic memory, nobody really knows. It is generally believed that it is connected to self-awareness and also language development, which comes with the ability to conceive of and understand narratives.
There is, interestingly, some research showing that the onset of memories differs between cultures and also between genders, see eg this pdf (women tend to recall more details). There is a line of research in which it has been suggested that early autobiographical memory formation depends on of the way in which parents talk about the past and encourage their children to do the same. It is also well known that emotionally intense events can be recalled back to very early age. Generally, high emotional impact is conductive to memory formation.
My earliest memory, I believe, is being bitten by a hamster. (I also recall having been told repeatedly to not stick my fingers into the cage, but, well.) I must have been roughly 3 years or so at that time. I also recall falling down the stairs, but that must have been later. I have a bunch of memories of my younger brother when he was old enough to walk, but not old enough to talk, which also dates me at about 3 years. Interestingly enough, I have absolutely no memory of my parents till past the age of 4. Which fits well with my perception that the girls do not so much take note of me as a person, but as a freely available service that's just around, like the air to breathe, but nothing that really requires attention.
Needless to say, I am wondering what one day will be Lara and Gloria's earliest memory.