These days, psychologists know that isn't true: for young babies, out of sight doesn't automatically mean out of mind. But how much do babies remember about the world around them, and what details do their brains need to absorb in order to help them keep track of those things?
A new study led by a Johns Hopkins psychologist and child development expert has added a few pieces to this puzzle. Published in a recent issue of the journal Psychological Science, the study reveals that even though very young babies can't remember the details of an object that they were shown and which then was hidden, the infants' brains have a set of built in "pointers" that help them retain a notion that something they saw remains in existence even when they can't see it anymore.
"This study addresses one of the classic problems in the study of infant development: What information do infants need to remember about an object in order to remember that it still exists once it is out of their view?" said Melissa Kibbe, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins, who collaborated with colleague Alan Leslie at Rutgers University on the study. "The answer is, very little."
The team found that even though infants cannot remember the shapes of two hidden objects, they are surprised when those objects disappear completely. The conclusion? Infants do, indeed, remember an object's existence without remembering what that object is.
This is important, Kibbe explains, because it sheds light on the brain mechanisms that support memory in infancy and beyond.
"Our results seem to indicate that the brain has a set of 'pointers' that it uses to pick out the things in the world that we need to keep track of," explains Kibbe, who did the majority of the work on this study while pursuing her doctorate in Leslie's laboratory at Rutgers. "The pointer itself doesn't give us any information about what it is pointing to, but it does tell us something is there. Infants use this sense to keep track of objects without having to remember what those objects are."
In addition, the study may help researchers establish a more accurate timeline of the mental milestones of infancy and childhood.
In the study, 6-month-olds watched as a triangle was placed behind a screen and then as a second object (a disk) was placed behind a second screen. Researchers then removed the first screen to reveal either the expected original triangle, the unexpected disk, or nothing at all, as if the triangle had vanished completely.
The team then observed the infants' reactions, measuring how long they looked at expected versus unexpected outcomes.
In the situation where the objects were swapped, the babies seemed to hardly notice a difference, Kibbe said, indicating that they didn't retain a memory of that object's shape. In their minds, a triangle and a disk were virtually interchangeable.
However, when one of the objects had disappeared, the babies were surprised and gazed longer at the empty space, indicating that they expected something to be where something was before.
"In short, they retained an inkling of the object," said Leslie, of Rutgers.
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation.
Read the Psychological Science article here: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/22/12/1500
For more information about Kibbe, go here: http://www.psy.jhu.edu/~labforchilddevelopment/pages/people.html
For more information about Leslie, go here: http://ruccs.rutgers.edu/~aleslie/
Lisa DeNike | EurekAlert!
Europe’s Demographic Future. Where the Regions Are Heading after a Decade of Crises
10.08.2017 | Berlin-Institut für Bevölkerung und Entwicklung
Scientists reveal source of human heartbeat in 3-D
07.08.2017 | University of Manchester
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences
17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy