Previous research suggested the average age of our earliest memory was three-and-a-half. Picture: Max Pixel

London - Our earliest childhood memories could begin from the age of two – much earlier than previously thought, researchers revealed.

The ability to remember past events develops rapidly from birth – but until now it was unclear when this happens. Now scientists have discovered the area of the brain responsible for it can be triggered before toddlers even learn to speak. The breakthrough may lead to earlier diagnosis of developmental brain disorders such as dyslexia and autism.

Previous research suggested the average age of our earliest memory was three-and-a-half.

In the first study of its kind 22 two-year-olds had their brains scanned using MRI. It showed more activation in the hippo-campus – responsible for the recall of events – when a lullaby they had previously learned was played to them than a new one different in voice and rhythm.

The highest response was observed in those who correctly remembered the place where they learned the song.

The team at California University in Davis said this suggests the role of the hippocampus in the early development of memory. The results are in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.