How old does a baby have to be before it can retain memories?

For most people (my earliest memories are of perhaps when I was 2 or so) their earliest memories would be when they were over a year old.

How old does the average baby have to be before it can retain memories? Are there any preconditions that need to be fulfilled?

Surely an important question. But there are different kinds of memory (classified mainly as declarative and procedural) which you don't specify exactly in your question. Wikipedia and Scholarpedia list here many known facts. I will give you some short hints and links for introduction and overview instead of pasting that stuff here.

You are probably referring to autobiographical or episodic memory, that is memorizing consciously particular events within one's own life within a context. And for this type of memory researchers agree that self-awareness seems to be a necessary precondition. The existence of this cognitive ability can be checked by the mirror test. Human infants pass this test normally around a age of 18 months (also some animals). The cognitive self develops between 21 and 24 months and marks the end of infantile amnesia.

Life Before Birth

Where were you - your soul, your spirit - before you were born? If the soul is immortal, did it have a "life" before your birth?

Much has been written, and many anecdotes recorded, of the near-death experience (NDE). People who have been declared dead and then revived sometimes report an experience of being on another plane of existence, often meeting deceased relatives and beings of light.

Rarer, but no less intriguing, are stories from people who recall an existence shortly before their births into this world - the pre-birth experience (PBE). These recollections differ from a past-life recall in that past-life recall are memories of previous lives on earth as humans, sometimes recently and sometimes of hundreds or even thousands of years ago. The pre-birth experience seems to "remember" an existence in the same or similar plane of existence described by NDErs.

Those who say they have had this amazing experience recall being in a spirit world, are aware of life on earth, and can sometimes choose their next life or communicate with their future parents. Some people even get a glimpse or a sense of the pre-birth realm during an NDE.

"Our research indicates that there is a continuity of self, that the 'same you' progresses through each of the three life stages - life before life, earth life, and life after death," according to Royal Child - The Prebirth Experience. "In a typical pre-birth experience, a spirit not yet born into mortality crosses over from the pre-earth life or heavenly realm and appears to or communicates with someone on earth. The preborn soul often announces that he or she is ready to advance from the premortal existence by being born into earth life. After nearly 20 years of collecting and studying PBE accounts and comparing data with other researchers of spiritual phenomena, we have identified typical traits, characteristics, and types of PBEs also when, to whom, and where they occur."

Of the people has surveyed, 53% felt they remembered a time before conception, and 47% after conception, but before birth.

Kids and Memory: What Do Babies Remember?

It's a lot more than you think. Heather Turgeon on new research that says our earliest days stay with us for life—and influence everything from our well-being to our favorite smells.

Heather Turgeon

Getty Images

Henry Molaison, known to the world as H.M., has been called the most important patient in the history of brain science. In 1953, doctors removed two slivers of tissue from deep in his brain to treat severe seizures. He woke up from the surgery transformed for life. His seizures were gone, but from the time of his operation at the age of 27 until his death two years ago at 82, H.M. had no ability to form new memories.

He could reminisce about his childhood, or talk about life during World War II, but new experiences stayed with him for about 20 seconds and then vanished. A small team of researchers studied him for decades—one described H.M. as being "part of the family." But still, each visit they made felt to Henry like it was the first.

Babies have long been thought of as little H.M.s—creatures of the moment who don't have the brain capacity to remember things for more than a few hours or days. In fact, I described them this way myself when I wrote about infant memory two years ago for Babble. The idea was that little kids are amnesiacs their hippocampus—the part of H.M.'s brain that doctors unknowingly removed—isn't mature yet, so new experiences don't stick.

But this may soon be an old-fashioned notion. Scientists who study infant memory are gathering around the idea that not only are babies not forgetful, but under the right circumstances, they can form memories that last for incredibly long periods of time. And even though when they grow up they might not consciously remember their diapered days, the memories that children form in the first years may actually be the ones with the greatest impact on their lives.

• 2010’s Hot Boy Baby Name TrendTo test the memory skills of the tiniest subjects, researchers employ one of an infant's favorite pastimes: kicking. In her lab at Rutgers, pioneer memory researcher Carolyn Rovee-Collier designs experiments that use kicking and other baby behaviors to measure memory strength in the first years of life.

A French physiology team found that toddlers prefer smells they were exposed to in the first weeks of life.

The basic setup: A baby is placed on her back in a crib with a ribbon around her ankle that is also tied to a mobile. When she runs her legs, the mobile moves and dances. Even a newborn learns to kick faster for maximum fun. After a break, the researchers come back, only this time they put the mobile back in her crib but don't attach it to her foot. Most babies start kicking furiously again at the sight of the mobile, remembering the game from days before. When Rovee-Collier started these studies decades ago, she found that two-month-old babies could remember for a day or two, while a six-month-old would remember for about two weeks, and a nine-month-old, for a month and a half.

But more recently, her lab has found a way to increase a memory's staying power. If the researchers just show the baby the mobile periodically (without allowing her to work it and re-learn the skill), a two-month-old baby will remember through seven months of age. And one of Rovee-Collier's graduate students, in a study using a train set instead of a mobile, showed that with only one learning session, six-month-old babies remembered how to work the train through their second birthdays.

Findings from other labs are helping build the case for far-reaching early memories, too. Earlier this year, for example, a French physiology team found that toddlers prefer smells they were exposed to in the first weeks of life.

"You can't compare babies to amnesiac adults," says Rovee-Collier. "Babies are not brain damaged—their memory is adapted to be exactly the kind of memory they need for early life." They're much more sophisticated than we give them credit for, she says, and their brains are set up to learn quickly and make rapid associations.

H.M. could learn and make associations, too, which baffled the scientists who studied him. For example, he mastered the ability to draw while watching only his hand in a mirror. Each time he did it, he got better at it—even though he always thought it was his first try at the exercise.

His "implicit" memory system was intact, meaning he could acquire subconscious knowledge and ability. Implicit memory is how you can parallel park your car or play a guitar without much thought. Most of what we traditionally refer to as memory is "explicit"—our conscious recall for facts and events, like what you ate for breakfast, or how you spent your summer vacation. The two memory systems explain why, for example, you remember how to ride a bike, even though you might not remember the day your parents took the training wheels off.

It's true that babies don't have a mature hippocampus, but in recent years, Rovee-Collier's studies have shown them to be capable of feats traditionally considered "explicit" anyway. For example, young babies are able to mimic a researcher's actions from days before. After watching an adult play with a toy, a baby will repeat the motions later on, even if she never touched the toy herself. A six-month-old will mimic a demo 24 hours later, and a 15-month-old baby will remember this after a four-month delay.

"We used to think babies only learned basic skills and couldn't retain memories over the long term," says Rovee-Collier. "Wrong. They do it, they just don't use the same brain circuits we do."

Part of the reason early memories fade is that infants grow and change so fast that their environment is constantly shifting, too. The mobile and train experiments repeatedly put them in the same context, but think about how fast a baby's skills, playthings, bedroom—everything —change with time. Lise Eliot, neuroscientist and author of What's Going On in There, explained this to me by saying, "You're never that small again. You're not looking out the same crib bars anymore."

And it's no coincidence that our first memories—usually from the ages of 3 or 4—match up with fluent language. If you ask a 10-year-old if he remembers a wedding he was in at age 2, he might give you a blank stare. It's not because there's no information about the experience up there, though. It's because you're asking him to recall a memory in spoken language when that memory wasn't coded in words in the first place.

But the fact that we can't talk about our early years is beside the point. The important, influential memories—the ones that shape us—are not our conscious memories anyway.

It's our emotional memory, the patterns of feelings and relationships—"am I safe, is the world a good place, do I have my people around me"—that matter. The brain's memory systems are deeply intertwined with its emotional circuits (which are strong right from birth), so much of what we learn early on is an emotional understanding of how the world works. The feelings around events are much more powerful than the events themselves.

And just like the baby remembering the mobile if she's given prompts, the experiences that stick are the ones that repeat (in fact, with each reminder, memories get stronger). So the time your child got pushed on the playground, or the night you didn't pick him out of his crib when he was crying—these aren't game-changers. Kids are like little scientists who need lots of data to draw conclusions. How we relate to and nurture them over time is what makes the difference.

This is why early childhood has such a powerful effect on us, even though we remember so little of it. Our first years are when we build our emotional blueprint of the world, and we take that understanding with us through the rest of our lives.

Heather Turgeon is a psychotherapist and science writer. She authors the column The Science of Kids for Babble.

Forget me not

gneget, via flickr

In research published in the journal Memory, Patricia Bauer and her colleague Marina Larkina brought in groups of 3-year olds with a parent (typically a mother, as in most child development studies). The parent interviewed the child about events that had happened over the prior three months like a visit to a zoo or preschool, while the researchers videotaped.

Over the next 6 years, different groups of children came back at age 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 to the lab and were questioned by the scientists on the events that happened when they were 3. Since the researchers knew the details of the events, they were able to probe exactly how much the kids remembered — and how they spoke about the memories.

The result? If the kids were between 5 and 7 at time of second interview, they remembered over 60% of events, Bauer tells KinderLab. But the children who were 8 and 9 remembered 40% or fewer of the events, and they had begun to talk about their memories in a different way.

“We think that it has to do with basic biological processes, as neural structures undergo a lot of postnatal development,” says Bauer. “Early in development those structures are working, but not very efficiently — children are forming memories, but through natural processes those are fading and becoming inaccessible. By the time you reach adulthood, those memories are working very effectively.”

Parents also have an effect on kids’ memories of events. Those who use an elaborative strategy with their little ones, asking lots of questions like “Tell me more” and “What happened?” and allowing the kids to guide the description, end up with kids that have earlier early and more robust memories, says Bauer.

Bauer is continuing her studies with a group of kids to be followed for 4 years, interviewed about memories at different points in their development. She says that the earliest memories tend to be ones filled with emotion, either positive or negative. So it’s possible that my niece will carry with her the memory of an early brush with the dental drill, but she might also leave it behind as she creates new memories.

Your toddler's memory

At 22 months old, Karen Bocskay’s daugther, Alyssa, started singing — out of the blue — the Tommy Thumb nursery rhyme to her infant brother, William. It was a touching family moment, but for Bocskay, it was also perplexing. This ditty had been a favourite during storytime at the local library in Cambridge, Ont., where Bocskay had taken Alyssa as a baby. They’d stopped attending the drop-in classes when Alyssa was nine months old — and yet she still remembered it, even though they hadn’t sung or played that song for more than a year.

“I was blown away. She had all of the words and the correct tune down pat. I asked her where she learned that song, and she told me flat out, ‘At the library!’”

The subject of toddler memory is fascinating not only for parents — who may fervently hope their kids won’t remember the time Mommy or Daddy lost his or her temper and accidentally swore at that bad driver — but also for researchers who study early memory.

When children learn and remember things they experienced as babies or toddlers, such as the alphabet song, this knowledge is considered “implicit” memory. The average age of the first “explicit” (or episodic) memory that can be recalled by an adult is not until about three-and-a-half years old, on average. An episodic memory plays out in the mind like a story. The pre-verbal diaper years that precede the first episodic memory are usually lost somewhere in the ether, a phenomenon referred to as “infantile” or “childhood amnesia.” Experts agree that older children and adults don’t typically retain memories from this period because the memories were made before language was a big part of their lives. (Even if a child this young can recall a memory, they’re not able to verbally convey it.)

And yet, when you ask a young child about her first memory, she’s likely to retrieve a snapshot or event from toddlerhood.

My own daughter, age seven, swears she remembers feeding the cat when she was two. She describes herself wearing a white shirt and diaper, pouring the dry cat food into a bowl with a blue, yellow and green “triangle design.” What’s telling is we got rid of the cat and all of its accessories (including the triangle-designed bowl) not long after her second birthday, so her recollection must be accurate. I’m certain we never took a photo of that cat dish, either.

Whether she holds onto this memory into late childhood and beyond, though, won’t be known until I ask her again in five or six years.

In a study published in the journal Memory in 2005, researcher Carole Peterson, a professor of psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland, found that six- to nine-year-olds have verbally accessible memories from toddlerhood that seem to disappear as they get older. A follow-up study published in Child Development in 2011, which tracked four- to 11-year-olds over a two-year period, found that “earliest memory” changed as the children aged, even if they were given cues about the original earliest memory from two years prior. It was infantile amnesia in action.

“We documented the fact that children were losing memories,” explains Peterson. Intrigued, she decided to find out why some memories stay and others go. This newest study, which is awaiting publication, found that memories “infused with emotion, either positive or negative,” were three times more likely to stick, says Peterson. The other factor was coherence — the memory needed to fit together as a whole, in narrative form, rather than just being a stand-alone snippet. In other words, if you want your toddler to remember something, talking about it with her helps, too. “Children acquire the habit of remembering life events because they talk about them,” says Peterson.

A version of this article appeared in our May 2013 issue with the headline “First memory,” p. 62.

When to seek help for babies and toddlers after a traumatic event

The first and second year of a child’s life has lots of ups and downs. Development may slow down for a while and then move forward again. It can sometimes be difficult to work out if this is just one of those times or whether something more serious is happening.

It may help to seek professional advice if:

  • the baby or toddler is slipping backwards in development
  • development slows down, especially if this occurs following a traumatic event or major disruption in the family and household
  • you feel that the trauma has got in the way of knowing your baby, developing close, loving feelings and feeling connected to them – it is important to seek help to get this bonding process back on track
  • you have been separated from the baby or toddler at the time of danger or during its aftermath
  • you or other carers are emotionally unwell with stress, grief, anxiety, exhaustion or depression – this can have a serious effect on the baby or toddler
  • your family has lost their home and community.

There is increasing evidence to suggest that the younger a child, the more serious the post-traumatic problems. Actively seeking help and advice is important.

If at any time you are worried about your mental health or the mental health of a loved one, call Lifeline 13 11 14.

How far back can you remember? When earliest memories occur

Some are as cozy as a lullaby, like the 52-year-old melodic, moving picture inside Scott Rubel’s head of Joan Baez and her sister, Mimi, strumming guitars, “smiling like goddesses,” and personally serenading away his tears. In that moment, he was 3.

Others are sad, like the 43-year-old desperate pleas that still echo inside Lucy Boyd’s mind: she’s wrapped in her mother's arms as the woman begs her husband — Lucy’s father — not to leave their marriage. On that day, she was not quite 2.

Our first palpable recollections — from vital, early mileposts to seemingly random snapshots of our toddler years — stick for good, on average, when we reach 3 1/2 years old, according to numerous past studies. At that age, the hippocampus, a portion of the brain used to store memories, has adequately matured to handle that task, experts say.

In fact, a fleet of neural-engines are simultaneously revving to life at roughly that same age, including our verbal abilities and the revelation that we are each our own entities, says Julie Gurner, a Philadelphia-based doctor of clinical psychology.

“We know that having language can be very important to memories because in having words for our experiences, we can talk about them, repeat them, and structure them,” says Gurner, who lectures on the brain’s anatomy and functions as assistant professor of psychology at the Community College of Philadelphia. “Around the age of three, we are also developing a distinct sense of self that allows you to distinguish who you are from the outside world.”

Meanwhile, research continues to churn up evidence on how, why and when first memories are recorded.

  • Last year, researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland in Canada reported that the earliest recollections of most grade-school children change or "shift" as they mature – and only by about age 10 are they finally cemented into those singular recollections that adults carry through life. That study was published in the journal Child Development.
  • Females seem to form their first permanent memories two to three months earlier than males and, for both genders, inaugural memories tend to be visual and positive rather than verbal or negative, according to a study published in journal Consciousness & Emotion in 2003.

“Strong emotional events truly burn themselves into our memories — both the good and the bad,” Gurner says. “My experience tends to be about half of clients report positive and half report negative experiences. There is likely no one reason we can pinpoint why one person might retain a good memory and another person might retain a bad one. Psychologists are continuing to examine how our predispositions, traits, environment and biology factor into how we frame our own experiences.”

For whatever reason, one lone moment has been selected and stamped in our brains as the first day our life experiences became worthy of mentally filing away and cataloguing. In a sense, they're our cognitive birthday.

For Scott Rubel, that everlasting fragment comes with its own sweet soundtrack – provided by folk singer Joan Baez. That’s the first memory cherished by Rubel, who from age two to four lived on the campus of Redlands University in Redlands, Calif., where his dad was a student.

One night in 1960, a classmate of his father took the family to dinner. En route, they stopped in San Bernardino at the Wigwam Hotel -- which featured an array of 30-foot-tall teepees -- to pick up two more friends: Baez and her sister.

“I probably had seen a couple of John Wayne movies by then and the situation I found myself in seemed like a threat,” says the 55-year-old president of a custom stationery website who lives in Los Angeles. “I began to cry like a baby -- which I guess I was -- and my mother and father held me while the very kind and patient sisters took out their guitars.

“I remember the visual of it clearly as I stopped crying and gazed at these two beautiful women, who [were] dressed almost the same in boots and black skirts with red tops and buckskin jackets," Rubel recounts. "Both had long super-black hair and were true entertainers."

The duo sang and played “until I was calm,” he says, adding that he can mark his age at three years and nine months because he was told Baez had just performed at the Newport Folks Festival.

On the other edge of the emotional spectrum, Lucy Boyd lugs a harsh first childhood memory – the crumbling of her parents’ marriage. During that horrible few minutes, Boyd can picture herself being held by her mother as the woman sat on a piano bench near the front door, beseeching her husband.

“He said he was leaving and she was begging him not to go … I also always had an innate sense of, ‘This is important I need to always remember this,'" says Boyd, 45, a registered nurse and author from Hixson, Tenn. She knows this occurred just before she was two because her parents divorced in 1968.

Then, there are what seem like mundane first memories – stray threads of our past that seem to carry no special weight.

Paula Pant, 28, remembers sitting on her mother’s lap in their Cincinnati living room. She believes she was 2 years old at the time.

“My mom was talking to a guest, one of her friends, who was sitting opposite us," says Pant, who now lives in Atlanta and runs a financial-advice site . "The guest wanted me to sit in his lap. My mom tried to put me in his lap. I started crying, so my mom reversed course, keeping me in her lap. That’s it. It’s a standard, everyday childhood event nothing special or out-of-the-ordinary. There's no reason it would be seared in my mind as my first memory. And yet it is.”

While such fragments might seem to lack any larger meaning decades later, often they do carry some form of subconscious heft, Gurner says.

“This woman may only remember what she sees as an insignificant snippet of memory because it may be the only trace left of a memory that likely was more extensive at another time,” Gurner says. “Often, especially in early memories or before language, we have a hard time keeping our memories in a context. Our memories can fade, and if they do not disappear, sometimes we can be left with the bits."

Gurner’s own first memory was notched, she says, at about age 2, taking place on the farm where she grew up. She is standing in her playpen, gazing out the window at a creature in the pasture. As she soaks in the image, her brain is flooded with questions and feelings of amazement because it is the largest single thing the girl has ever seen. The object: a horse.

“That sense of wonder and curiosity has never left me,” Gurner says. “I believe that sharing a first memory is meaningful because it reveals something uniquely personal about us to others. It allows us to share a moment in time from a vantage point of a younger version of ourselves, and gain insight into the younger versions of someone else.

“First memories get beyond the presentations of everyday life – of clothing, career and status -- and reveal something distinctly personal and unique about you … something about our families or environment," she adds. "But all of it has something that has been so resilient that it has withstood many years of other memories and experiences without erasure. For some it will be fun, for others, very painful – but for everyone, it’s personal.”

What's your earliest memory? Tell us the stories of the earliest moments in your life you can recall -- we'll publish our favorites in an upcoming Body Odd post.

Childhood Amnesia: Is It Possible To Lose Your Childhood Memories?

Most of us know what amnesia is, but most of our ideas about it come from fiction and have little basis in reality. In soap operas, for example, a character might lose his or her memories, usually due to some trauma or brain injury, only to regain them suddenly when triggered by another person or event. It turns out that this scenario is unrealistic and unlikely to occur, especially when it comes to childhood memories.

Childhood amnesia is a condition that occurs naturally over time. If you've forgotten some or most of your childhood, you're not alone. This happens to most people. Some worry that their childhood amnesia could be indicative of severe trauma, but that's usually not the case. In fact, the very idea of repressed childhood memories is highly debated because you cannot prove that something has been repressed unless you have evidence that it happened in the first place.

What Is Childhood Amnesia?

Think about your earliest memories. Go as far back as possible, and try to paint a picture of each year. How far back can you go? If you're like most people, your memories start to get fuzzy when you try to recall anything before preschool. Childhood amnesia or infantile amnesia means that someone is unable to remember their early childhood. It's very common, and not necessarily a sign of any brain injury or external trauma.

Although the average person can't remember sucking on a bottle as a baby, many people find it strange that they can't remember life as a three-year-old. At three, you know you were talking, and you could even use the bathroom, but it's still rare to remember that part of your life. Your memories are probably faded like an old picture that has been sitting in the sun for too long.

You've probably heard your parents or someone who knew you when you were a toddler talk about events that happened during that time, but you can't remember what they're talking about. It may be a bit frustrating. Odds are that nothing eventful happened during that time, but it can feel strange to know there are parts of your life you can't remember. It may feel like your life began at the age of four or so. Before this age, pictures, videos, and stories from friends and family are the only evidence of your existence.

Childhood Amnesia and Aging

Memories of being a young child generally fade over time. A child may be able to recall their early memories much better, but an adult may have more difficulty remembering what happened before a certain age. Why is that? Do our memories fade as we age? Or do we remember parts of our lives that are more eventful?

Children start losing early memories around their preteen years. By the age of 11 or so, they are less likely to recall early memories, and as their brain matures, they seem to lose those memories completely. Some children can even forget early memories by the age of seven.

Why Do We Forget?

You may wonder why we can't remember anything before a certain age. The brain is a complex organ, and we're still learning how it functions, so there are many theories about childhood amnesia.

One of the biggest theories is synaptic pruning. To understand this concept, imagine a small tree. When the tree becomes too big, it needs to be pruned to stay healthy. Synaptic pruning suggests that the brain has the same need. To get rid of memories that are no longer necessary, the brain may remove these memories if they're not needed in the present. In theory, this keeps your brain running efficiently. However, emotions also play a major part in recalling memories.

"If you're having difficulty remembering important parts of your childhood, that may be a sign of trauma. Talking to a therapist can help you explore childhood memories in a safe and supportive environment."

You're more likely to remember something if it had an emotional impact. Some people believe that young children attach fewer emotions to events, so they have a harder time recalling certain memories. After all, there is a difference between a child crying out of instinct and a child crying because of emotional trauma.

Finally, childhood amnesia could be related to brain development. When a child is very young, their brain is undeveloped, which may affect how their memories are stored and retrieved. The science of how memory recall works is very complex and worth its own article, but in short, our brains don't store memories the way a computer might. Instead, memories are a collection of reactions coming from the brain. As the child grows, the brain develops, and it can be difficult to access these collections from a previous stage of development.

Are Those Memories Real?

It's hard to know how many childhood memories are real. Do you ever wonder how many of them you remember simply because someone told you about the event?

Can People Remember Being Babies?

Remembering being a toddler is one thing, but some people claim to remember being babies. They remember drinking bottles, crying for attention, and learning to take their first steps. This seems unlikely, but science doesn't currently have a way of knowing if these memories are real or not. There is some evidence that babies can retain memories, but again it's hard to test this scientifically.

I Can't Remember My Entire Childhood?

As mentioned previously, it's very common for people not to remember anything before the age of three. If you don't have early childhood memories, there's nothing wrong with your mind, and you probably don't suffer from any trauma. It's normal to lose your early childhood memories at a young age.

However, some people can't remember anything from their childhood before the age of 12. In this case, there may be some form of trauma at play. Childhood trauma can lead to dissociative amnesia, where we seal away a chunk of our memories as a defense mechanism against significant trauma.

If this describes your experience, it may be best to talk to a mental health professional. It doesn't mean that you definitely experienced trauma, but they can help rule out any serious issues, so you can understand why you can't remember your childhood.

How to Attempt Memory Recall on Your Own

If you're curious to remember more of your childhood, you can try the following tips.

Write Down What You Do Remember

To clarify your memories, try writing down what you're trying to remember. Include as many sensory details as possible. As you create your own personal database of childhood memories, you may remember more and more of your childhood.

See If You Can Find Any Triggers

Triggers have a negative connotation in psychology, but in memory recollection, triggers can be a positive thing. Feelings, sights, sounds, and scents can trigger a memory and bring you back to a specific time in your childhood. Experiment with triggers like old toys or even songs to help you recall early memories.

Get Help With Your Memories on BetterHelp

If you can't remember anything before the age of three, that's okay and is to be expected. That said, if you're having difficulty remembering important parts of your childhood, that may be a sign of trauma. Talking to a therapist can help you explore childhood memories in a safe and supportive environment.

Studies have shown that internet-based therapy can have significant positive effects on those who have experienced trauma. A study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found online therapy to be effective in reducing trauma-related symptoms. In the study, patients participated in internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps those experiencing unhelpful or harmful thoughts to reframe thinking patterns. According to research, 69.2% of participants made significant progress immediately after treatment, and 77% sustained progress at a 3-month checkup.

Unlike with traditional therapy, online counseling allows you to access help at any time of day. Regardless of your schedule or location, you can quickly jump online with a therapist whenever you need support. You will also have the opportunity to work with therapists who may be outside of your immediate area, or even state. Read the reviews below to learn more about BetterHelp counselors who've worked with people in similar situations.

Counselor Reviews

"I have been working with Dr. Cheng for a few weeks now. She is extremely caring and patient. Very quickly she was able to identify my struggles and I feel very well cared. I struggled a lot with one on one sessions, but doing online has been quite less tiring for me. She is helping me with my anxiety and with past childhood traumas. I find that the exercises she provided me are of great use. I definitely recommend her."

" She is very easy to talk to and the feedback she provides is honest, and personalized to fit my situation. She challenges me to think about my past in a new way which is helping to address future concerns as they arise too! Very thankful to have her help and guidance. "

Not being able to remember childhood memories may be frustrating or somewhat scary, but it's actually very normal. If you're curious to remember more of your childhood, consider the ideas in this article or reach out to a counselor who can support you through the process. Take the first step today.

On the Move

Around the ninth week of pregnancy, your baby starts making her first movements. Those movements are probably visible with an ultrasound, even though they can&apost be felt for several more weeks. By 13 weeks, your baby may be able to put a thumb in her mouth, although the sucking muscles aren&apost completely developed yet.

Although your baby&aposs first muscle movements were involuntary, the first voluntary muscle movements occur around week 16. After this point, awake or asleep, your baby moves 50 times or more each hour, flexing and extending her body, moving her head, face, and limbs, and exploring her warm, wet home by touch. A baby may touch her face, touch one hand to the other hand, clasp her feet, touch her foot to her leg, or her hand to the umbilical cord. By week 37, your baby has developed enough coordination so that he or she can grasp with the fingers.

Along with these common movements, babies perform some odder activities, including licking the uterine wall and "walking" around the womb by pushing off with its feet.

Fetuses also react with motion to their mother&aposs actions. For instance, ultrasounds have shown a fetus bouncing up and down when the mother laughs. Watching this on the screen, moms-to-be often laugh harder, and the fetus starts moving up and down even faster!

Second or third children may have more stretching room in the womb than first babies because a woman&aposs uterus is bigger and the umbilical cord longer after her first pregnancy. These children usually get more motor experience in utero and tend to be more active infants.

By week 29, you should be feeling your baby move at least 10 times an hour.

Babies retain even detailed events during a nap

Summary: A short nap allows babies to generalize individual experiences, preserve the details of the experience, and differentiate the events from existing general knowledge.

Source: Max Placnk Institute

The brain is permanently exposed to new impressions. Even when sleeping, it does not rest and processes recent experiences. In very early childhood, it has been thought that sleep primarily promotes semantic memory. This includes general knowledge such as the meaning of words. However, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) Leipzig and the Humboldt University (HU) Berlin, together with researchers from Lübeck and Tübingen, have now shown for the first time in their study published in Nature Communications that babies also build their episodic memory when they nap. This enables them to remember the details of their individual experiences after napping.

The scientists examined this relationship using a three-phase study. During the learning phase, the 14 to 17-month-old children were shown pictures of objects whose names they already knew, containing different cars, balls or dogs. They then heard the appropriate name for each picture. One group of the children spent the following one to two hours sleeping, while a second group stayed awake. In the subsequent test phase, the researchers showed the young participants different pictures again, including those that they had already seen in the learning phase as well as new cars, balls and dogs. Each object was once named correctly and once incorrectly. During all phases of the experiment, the researchers recorded the baby’s brain activity using the electroencephalogram (EEG).

The analysis of the EEG activity made it clear: The brain of the children who had slept responded differently in the memory test than that of those who stayed awake – but only in certain cases. If the researchers presented the babies with a ball that they had never seen before and called it a car, the brain responses initially did not differ. In both groups, the so-called N400 component appeared, which occurs when the brain processes inappropriate meanings. The children obviously knew that a ball is not a car.

The scientists examined this relationship using a three-phase study of learning phase, nap or wake and testing phase. The image is credited to MPI CBS.

It was different, however, when the babies viewed a ball from the learning phase and it was called a car. The group that had stayed awake again showed the N400 component, while the group that had slept did not. In the children who had napped, the researchers observed a brain response that was triggered when a ball from the learning phase was again correctly named as such. However, this response did not occur when a new ball was called a ball. The researchers concluded: After sleep, the babies no longer understood the object-word pairs they had previously experienced as naming a meaning. Rather, they recognized them as individual episodes. Object and word were thus merged into a unified event in the memory.

“The results show that sleep not only enables the infant brain to generalize individual experiences, but also to preserve individual experiences in detail and to differentiate them from existing general knowledge,” explains first author Manuela Friedrich, researcher at the MPI CBS and HU Berlin. She further hypothesizes: “The fact that a recognized object-word episode is not understood as referring to general knowledge means that its details can be protected from mixing with existing memory.”

The results are also interesting with respect to the so-called infantile amnesia, i.e. the phenomenon of not being able to remember one’s own early childhood experiences. It has often been assumed that very young children are not yet capable of forming longer-term episodic knowledge. However, the current findings clearly show that even babies can remember events in detail – and sleep contributes significantly to this.

About this neuroscience research article

Max Placnk Institute
Media Contacts:
Verena Müller – Max Placnk Institute
Image Source:
The image is credited to MPI CBS.