Babies Could Have Higher Memories Than You Thought

As adults, we might meet a person only once and remember his face. How about babies? We might think babies are much immature and that their minds aren’t developed enough to conjure the face of a person to remember him or her until the second or the subsequent meet. But guess what, you might be entirely wrong in thinking so.
In a recent study, the results of which were published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition in February, Danish scientists carried out a remarkable yet simple experiment which involved study on families when their babies were one-year-olds. The experiment was carried out by researchers who were roughly about the same age. When the babies were three-and-a-half years old, they were shown two screens — one screen showed the experimenter they met when the babies were one-year-old, and the other showed the experimenter who was a new face to them.

The two experimenters then tracked the eye

movements of the babies as they looked at the two screens. It turned out that the babies were staring at the new face longer, which stems up from the fact that human beings have novelty preference – they are conditioned to look longer at a new thing than a familiar thing.

The experiment might address the subject of childhood amnesia around which curiosities persist. The researchers said they undertook this study around childhood memory to differentiate it from an adult’s memory. As adults, we find it difficult to remember things from our early life.

Earlier studies had given an idea that babies do have an ability to remember people from early life, but this experiment for the first time showed that babies could remember a face for years even if they met the person only once for a 45-minute study.

However, it also appeared that memory does not function in a conscious way. When the toddlers were asked as to which man they had met, they seemed to make a random guess at the experimenter they had

met before.

So, are there any implications of kids remembering people they met only once? The experimenters hadn’t addressed the question yet, but one of the two researchers Osman Skjold Kingo says that there is unconscious memory working most of the times and that there is a need to know about the unconscious versus conscious memory.

A famous experiment called object permanence by Jean Piaget shows that babies seemed to forget an object when it is covered up, in a way that babies forget about it when it is out of sight. But the belief that infants forget so quickly has been challenged in recent times. Now it is widely believed that even infants are aware of the past. If babies are exposed to an action with props, they will be able to imitate the action. A six-month-old infant can repeat an action in a three-step sequence a day later, while a nine-month-old infant can repeat it a month later.

Patricia Bauer, a professor of psychology at Emory University who studies early memory, says that there is

a consensus that a three-year-old child’s memory is more like a shuffled information like your email inbox with no sorting function.

In yet another study on memories of Walt Disney World, it turned out that children who were only three years old could recall the memories of what they had seen at Disney even 18 months later.

There has been more and more evidence piling up in the recent past that babies can remember faces and events much later in their lives as well. So if you thought that your baby wouldn’t remember the face of the doctor he dreaded during the vaccine visits, you would be wrong.