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    Babies Remember Even as They Seem to Forget



    Source: Psychological Sciences.

    Fifteen years ago textbooks and studies on human development reported that babies 6 months of age or younger had no sense of “object permanence” – the psychological term that describes a baby’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, the kid had no idea whether his parents were still in the world or not.

    These days, psychologists know that isn’t true, i.e. for young babies, out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind. But how much do babies remember about the world around them, and what details do their brains need to imbibe in order to help them observe and check on those things?

    A recent study has helped develop some ideas about this case. The study reports that even though very young babies can’t remember the specifics 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 an idea that something they saw remains in existence even when they can’t see it anymore.

    The study experiment was such that, 6-month-old babies watched when 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 display either the expected original triangle, the unexpected disk, or nothing at all, as if the triangle had disappeared completely.

    The team observed the infants’ reactions on it, measuring how long they looked at expected versus unexpected results.

    The researchers observed that even though infants cannot remember the shapes of two hidden objects, they express surprised emotion when those objects disappear completely. The conclusion? Infants do, indeed, remember an object’s existence without exactly remembering what that object is.

    Published: Psychological Sciences.

    Contact: Melissa M. Kibbe Assistant Professor, Boston University.

    Details: Image source IStock.


    Hi, I’m Aarti, My Psychoanalytical approach towards my clients is to empower them to better their lives through improving their relationship with themselves. I believe shame and guilt is a common barrier to change. I aim to guide my clients through re authoring their narratives where shame, guilt, and other problems have less power and take up less space.

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