Here's Why You Can't Remember Being a Baby

It's not you, it's science.

We had it made as babies. Someone else fed, bathed, and carried us around, and our only job was to lay there and look cute. But in some sort of cruel plot twist, not only do we now have to feed, bathe, and walk ourselves (and still try to look cute), but we don't even get to keep the memories from that delightfully carefree part of our lives.

Admit it: The only babyhood memories you have are actually based on the many naked-baby-butt pictures your mom forced you to look at as a teenager. Sad. But hey, at least there's an interesting term to describe not remembering the good ol' days of your infancy.

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It's called childhood amnesia, which, yes, is a real thing. Through studies, researchers have found most children over the age of 8 don't remember much — if anything at all — that happened to them before they were about 3 or 4 years old. There's still a lot of mystery behind why this happens, but scientists believe it has to do with the way our brains develop as we grow. We retain some things we learn as babies (i.e. language), but what are known as "episodic memories" (aka that time you jumped off the couch because you thought you could fly) don't stick around as our brains change.

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Patricia Bauer, PhD, a professor of psychology at Emory University, told NPR that because our brain systems are so immature at any age younger than 4, they're not working as efficiently — or effectively — as they are later in childhood and adulthood. During a group study of children, Dr. Bauer and a colleague found children at age 7 could still recall more than 60 percent of life events before age 3, but children who were 8 and 9 recalled less than 40 percent. Crazy, right?

If Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind taught us anything, it's that the concept of memory is a lot to wrap your head around in the first place, much less why and how they can disappear so quickly. Luckily the above video from SciShow does a great job of breaking it down. Take a look — it'll be something you never forget.

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