Can a Person Remember Being Born?

Think back to your earliest memory. Perhaps images of a birthday party or scenes from a family vacation come to mind. Now think about your age when that event occurred. Chances are that your earliest recollection extends no further back than your third birthday. In fact, you can probably come up with only a handful of memories between the ages of 3 and 7. This inability of most adults to remember events from early life is called “childhood amnesia.” Sigmund Freud first coined the term in 1899 to explain his adult patients’ scarcity of childhood memories. More than a century later, researchers have yet to pin down a precise explanation for why childhood amnesia occurs. For a long time, the rationale behind childhood amnesia rested on the assumption that the memory-making parts of babies’ brains were undeveloped. Then, around age 3, children’s memory capabilities rapidly accelerate to adult levels. However, researchers have discovered that children as young as 3 months old can form long-term memories. The difference comes in which memories stick around. So why don't we remember our birth? Scientists believe that either the immaturity of the brain interferes with early infant memories or they’re blocked from our consciousness because we had no language skills at that time. Researchers say that children don’t develop self-recognition skills and a personal identity until 16-24 months. A few people have claimed they remember being born, but most scientists dispute that they are really recalling the event, arguing that these people could be repeating stories they have heard from others.