WETZSTEIN: ‘Buzz’ memories start before birth

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Let’s just say they are proceeding gingerly. Memory research is a high priority, due to interest in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. At the beginning of life, research is also under way to measure the memories of “preverbal” infants.

The prevailing psychological view is that people cannot consciously remember anything until about age 3. That’s because until a child’s brain cortex grows to a certain size, the capacity for long-term storage of memory isn’t very big, psychologist David G. Myers said in his 2007 book, “Psychology.”

What about fetal-memory studies like the recent Dutch one? Well, Mr. Myers noted, “habituation” in unborn children has indeed been studied since the 1980s. (It was discovered in the 1920s.) This, however, doesn’t mean babies can “remember” their time in the womb, as tempting a conclusion as that may be, said the Oxford Handbook on Memory.

As for birth or childhood memories retrieved under hypnosis, 60 years of research dispute such claims, Mr. Myers wrote.

One might think Mr. Chamberlain, 81, and his colleagues will stay on the margins of science, but that’s not necessarily the case. “We know a great deal more about the baby now,” he told me, and a growing body of research suggests human beings not only can remember their time in the womb, they also can think, understand and communicate with people while they’re in there.

Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at cwetzstein@washingtontimes.com.

About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein

Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.

Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...

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