Memory Milestones

Infant (0–2 years): Research hints that infants form brief memories.

Toddler (2–3 years): Toddlers begin to form memories of facts and events. Yet they are ephemeral because the hippocampus—key for long-term memories—is still maturing.

Young child (4–7 years): Short-term memory improves. Prospective memory—the ability to plan and remember to execute the plan—starts to emerge.

Child (8–10 years): Children have now forgotten about two thirds of their memories before age three. Recall of facts and spatial relationships improves greatly.

Early adolescent (10–12 years): As hippocampal growth cools down, connections in that region start to get pruned, and long-term memory improves. The ability to consciously suppress memories appears to increase as well.

Young adult (13–21 years): The superior temporal cortex, which helps to integrate information, and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, involved in short-term memory, continue to mature into our early 20s. This pattern might explain why memory becomes richer and more complex throughout the young adult years. —V.S.

This article was originally published with the title “What’s Your First Memory?.”

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