Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Babies remember even as they seem to forget

20.12.2011
Fifteen years ago, textbooks on human development stated that babies 6 months of age or younger had no sense of "object permanence" – the psychological term that describes an infant's belief that an object still exists even when it is out of sight. That meant that if mom or dad wasn't in the same room with junior, junior didn't have the sense that his parents were still in the world.

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!
Further information:
http://www.jhu.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht How to design city streets more fairly
18.05.2020 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH

nachricht Insects: Largest study to date confirms declines on land, but finds recoveries in freshwater – Highly variable trends
24.04.2020 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New measurement exacerbates old problem

Two prominent X-ray emission lines of highly charged iron have puzzled astrophysicists for decades: their measured and calculated brightness ratios always disagree. This hinders good determinations of plasma temperatures and densities. New, careful high-precision measurements, together with top-level calculations now exclude all hitherto proposed explanations for this discrepancy, and thus deepen the problem.

Hot astrophysical plasmas fill the intergalactic space, and brightly shine in stellar coronae, active galactic nuclei, and supernova remnants. They contain...

Im Focus: Biotechnology: Triggered by light, a novel way to switch on an enzyme

In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...

Im Focus: New double-contrast technique picks up small tumors on MRI

Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...

Im Focus: I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“

Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Perfect optics through light scattering

02.06.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

The digital construction site: A smarter way of building with mobile robots

02.06.2020 | Architecture and Construction

Process behind the organ-specific elimination of chromosomes in plants unveiled

02.06.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>