Serious question.


Sometimes when I remember a time in the distant past when I was remembering something even longer ago, I wonder if I remembered more about it then than I do now. Like, when you’re 14 and remember when you were 4, are your memories of being 4 clearer then than when you remember being 4 in your 50’s? Do we lose the details of our long-term memories as we age? I wonder about that.

13 thoughts on “Serious question.

  1. As all of us know, the human brain isn’t fully developed at birth, by far; even at 14, there is still a ways to go, and cognitive memory is…well, much different than with the adult brain.

    Information can be placed more effectively in the adult stages, however usually slower; versus the child’s brain, where capturing and assessing exposure runs usually faster but less effective. There are considerable limits to underdeveloped memory, which may include emotional or logical confusion (as any neurological matter in the body, development won’t be identical, and as such, the two hemispheres won’t develop at identical rates—close, but no).

    At any age, placement/type of memory plays a large role in recall. Unless some kind of disease (such as dementia) has destroyed the cells, the memories are still intact, however the connections may be weaker, because as we age, in our lives our character changes from detail to detail, and what we consider relevant in the now strengthens the newer memories.

    Hypnosis comes to mind on accessing older memories, that everything and anything becomes relevant again.

    On a personal note I cannot recall anything before around age five, unaided. It took a heightened state of awareness in order for some formed memories to have any strength around that time. …So for age four, I’m not a very good subject. 🙂

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    • Good point on the brain development. I understand that the brain in most isn’t fully developed to an adult brain until age 25. That’s probably an average I suppose since there are many immature adults past that age. Not really being funny here but I’ll throw in a LOL anyway. 😉

      It’s one reason I don’t agree with prosecuting a child as an adult for any crime. Their brains don’t work at all the same as an adult. That’s not to say there shouldn’t be consequences, but to put a child in an adult prison seems unconscionable to me. (A whole other conversation there.)

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  2. Probably something that differs by the individual. We block things too and then can get triggered to remember that blocked memory.

    It may depend on how significant the memory is as to how you remember it as time goes on. And if there’s something you completely forget now, you may forget that you even had a memory of it back then.

    Your memory can also depend on your overall health as well given it’s an organ of your body and the food you eat and the environment you live in will effect it. I know people who have dementia have long term memories but there are people who forget a lot too.

    I know someone as a matter of fact who remembers a bunch of stuff from when he was little, most of it from home life and remembers almost nothing from school. But then he likely remembered his senior year and the events therein, just after graduation. However since he doesn’t have much memory of high school at all anymore he would only be speculating that he remembered it back then if I were to ask him that I’m guessing.

    Hm. This is something to really think about. Lol.

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      • Once I started writing a response, I started to think more. It’s an interesting question and I’d never thought about it before. There is that “memories fade with time” phrase. Trauma also messes with our memory but I kinda touched on that when I mentioned blocking and being triggered to remember in my original comment.

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  3. My childhood at times seems to be a vague, kinda hazy memory. I look at old pictures and sometimes I don’t remember the circumstances behind them.

    Oddly, college really seems to be the vaguest memory of all. I dunno….perhaps I partied too much!

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  4. Reblogged this on Surviving Complex PTSD and commented:
    My earliest childhood memory is of an earthquake. I woke up in my crib and everything was shaking. I could see and hear items falling off of shelves and pictures sliding off the walls. I heard someone outside the apartment shout “IT’S AN EARTHQUAKE!” I heard a woman’s high-pitched scream. I heard my parents talking loudly from in the next room. They sounded frightened. Then the shaking stops.

    This happened in California where I was born. We moved to Missouri a few weeks before my third birthday, so I know I was younger than three. I looked online for earthquakes in California during the time we lived there and the one I remember probably happened when I was 19 months old.

    My memory is not perfect though, as I have sadly discovered. Approximately twenty years ago, my photograph was printed on the front page of the local newspaper in the small city where I lived at the time. The photo accompanied a story about me and one of my neighbors speaking at a town counsel meeting.

    I was thrilled when I saw my picture in color above the fold on the cover of the next morning’s paper. I bought a couple of copies and stored them in my keepsake box in the attic. About five years later, I wanted to show my “15 seconds of fame” news photo to a friend, so I dug one of the papers out of the attic and was shocked to see that I had been remembering that picture ALL WRONG! In my memory – of an event that had only happened a few years earlier – the news photo showed me standing at the podium talking to the mayor and the town counsel members, with my neighbor standing behind me, waiting his turn to speak. BUT – in the actual picture – my neighbor is the one standing at the podium speaking to the mayor and counsel members, and *I* am the one standing behind him, waiting my turn to speak!

    It FREAKED ME OUT when I saw that, because I had always believed that my memory was photographic (pun intended). Yet, right there in my hands was incontrovertible proof that my memory may be CLOSE to the actual real-life event that happened – but – my memory is NOT PERFECT.


    It made me rethink everything I ever thought I knew about my life, you know what I mean?

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  5. I have read that the brain continued to be plastic and more modifiable than many people think, even into old age. In terms of maturation, I read that it often matures by the mid 20s, which is a long time! And for men it is a little later and slower than for women. Of course, men are just as smart 🙂

    (Aside: Luckyotter, please check out my latest article on my blog when you get a chance. I think you’ll like my new research about the identity of the first ever borderline).

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    • Yes, it is harder to remember early childhood because our brains aren’t as well developed yet. I can’t wait to see your article–now I’m dying of curiosity!


  6. To me, even our earliest memories are valid, because whether we perceived the events correctly, we always carry the feelings. Sadly, sometimes we’ve misunderstood and taken on feelings we could have avoided if we’d known more, but still, the memories and feelings compose who we are.

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    • I think not having words yet makes it more likely an early childhood memory may be inaccurate. Sometimes we are also told things about something that happened and “remember” it as it was our own memory, even though it wasn’t. I think the term for this is false memory.

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