Published: Fri, July 20, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Forty per cent of people have a fictional first memory

Forty per cent of people have a fictional first memory

As numerous memories are dated from the age of two or younger, the authors of the study suggest that these fictional memories are based on remembered fragments of early experience, tying in with stories from family members.

The researchers emphasized, however, that the participants had to be absolutely certain that the memories were their own.

But if that memory is from before the age of two, it's nearly certainly fictional, researchers said.

This time period is actually part of the "preverbal stage" of human life, when the ability to form memories has not yet developed, Akhtar told Live Science.

They found that the memories were fictional patchworks based on fragments of early remembered experiences combined with facts derived from photos and family conversations.

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This supports the long-held and yet-to-be-disproven belief that a person's memory only dates back to age 3 to 3-1/2 years. "In fact, when people are told that their memories are false they often don't believe it", said the study's co-author Martin Conway, a researcher at City University of London.

From these descriptions the researchers then examined the content, language, nature and descriptive detail of respondents' earliest memory descriptions, and from these evaluated the likely reasons why people claim memories from an age that research indicates they can not be formed.

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"Additionally, further details may be non-consciously inferred or added, e.g. that one was wearing nappy when standing in the cot".

"When we looked through the responses we found that a lot of these first "memories" were frequently related to infancy, and a typical example would be a memory based around a pram".

The certainty about these phony memories comes from the individual mentally replaying the "memory" numerous times over the years until he or she solidifies the scene to the point where it feels 100 percent authentic, according to a report on the study by Newsweek.

Such "recollections" seem to be "particularly prevalent among middle-aged and older adults", news site ScienceDaily adds.

It is important to understand that the people are not even aware that his early memories - fiction.

The findings were published online this week in the journal Psychological Science.

This means that many of these "fictional" memories are merely our minds mixing up what we know about babies and what we actually experienced as a baby. Over time, the person imagines what it would have looked like which may result in their mental representations becoming a memory.

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