Childhood memories before this age are more than likely fictional 3 years ago

Childhood memories before this age are more than likely fictional

You may think you have memories of taking your first steps, or even your first words.

But a new study has found that these are most likely fictional.

The research, published in the Psychological Science Journal, found that it is unlikely human beings can remember anything before they are three-and-a-half years old.

In the biggest survey on first memories, it was found that 40 per cent of people's first memories are actually fictional - since they claim to remember things that happened aged two or even earlier.

The recollections that are "related to infancy" are often found to be a result of memory mixed with imagination.

Professor Martin Conway, co-author of the study said:

“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.”

The researchers also found that it is when we are 5 or 6 years of age that people start to create "adult-like memories" - although the ones at three-years-old are still considered realistic.


Conway explains that 6,641 people were asked to recall their first ever memory for the study, confirming that it "wasn't related to a family story or photograph".

He notes that false memories are often a result of photographs, or even hearing stories from one's childhood.

2,487 people's memories claimed to be from two years of age or younger, with 893 of them claiming their first memory was when they were around a year old.

Researchers believe this to be unlikely due to the way that the brain develops.

Dr Shazia Akhtar, another author of the study, said:

“We suggest that what a rememberer has in mind when recalling fictional improbably early memories is an episodic-memory-like mental representation consisting of remembered fragments of early experience and some facts or knowledge about their own infancy/childhood.”