Memory formation

An interesting fact from this slate-piece: Children can’t create conscious memories until around two years of age.

Previously when people asked me how long I’d had diabetes, an answer I frequently gave was this: “As long as I can remember”. That’s actually completely true and I know this for a fact; the first memory I ever formed is from the hospital ward where I was first committed as a two-year-old. Apparently, if I’d been much younger, the correct answer would be: “I have had the disease longer than I can remember”.

Big changes. Life-altering stuff. Those are the kinds of things we tend to remember. Does this bias our memories towards negative life events (à la House: ‘change is always bad’)? Or does our ability to ‘fill in the blanks’ (/add incorrect details making ourselves look better in our own eyes, ignore details that make us look bad) remove this bias completely, maybe even creating a bias in the opposite direction? Does the way we retrieve and structure our memories change with age, towards a more favourable view of the past (“I can’t expect to live much longer, but at least I’ve had a good life”)? Is this necessarily a bad thing? Why do so few movies or other works of art center around this theme, considering how important memories are for the average human mind? Do everybody just not think about how important their memories are for their very existence as intelligent beings – and if so, why?

Just questions, I’m just wondering. I don’t expect answers.


March 16, 2010 - Posted by | Random stuff


  1. Jeg kan se, at du har rigeligt på læselisten, men hvis du ikke har læst den, er Prousts ‘På sporet efter den tabte tid’ oplagt i denne forbindelse 🙂

    Comment by Ulla Lauridsen | March 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. Ulla, som altid: Tusind tak for anbefalingen.

    Jeg har ikke læst den. Som du nok kan regne ud, går der nok et stykke tid, før jeg begiver mig i kast med det værk, hvis jeg beslutter mig for at gøre det. Men det er skrevet bag øret (og skrevet ned på min notesliste over anbefalede værker fra folk, som har kommenteret på bloggen – ja, sådan en liste har jeg faktisk liggende på min computer).

    Comment by US | March 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. I note a surprising lack of links to 🙂

    Comment by gwern | October 22, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the link, appreciated!

      Comment by US | October 22, 2011 | Reply

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