Childhood amnesia, also called infantile amnesia, is the inability of adults to retrieve episodic memories (memories of situations or events) before the age of two to four years, as well as the period before the age of ten of which some older adults retain fewer memories than might otherwise be expected given the passage of time. The development of a cognitive self is also thought by some to have an effect on encoding and storing early memories.
Some research has demonstrated that children can remember events from before the age of two, but that these memories may decline as children get older. Psychologists differ in defining the onset of childhood amnesia. Some define it as the age from which a first memory can be retrieved. This is usually the second birthday, but it can range from two to seven years for a few.
Changes in encoding, storage and retrieval of memories during early childhood are all important when considering childhood amnesia.