Babies remember objects out of sight

December 20th, 2011 - 3:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 20 (IANS) It was earlier believed that babies six-month-old or younger have no sense of ‘object permanence’ - that something exists even when it is out of sight. But now psychologists know that is not true.

For young babies, out of sight doesn’t automatically mean out of mind, the journal Psychological Science reports.

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 study led by a Johns Hopkins psychologist and child development expert has added a few pieces to this puzzle, according to a statement.

“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. The answer is, very little,” said Melissa Kibbe.

Kibbe, a post-doctoral psychology researcher at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins, co-authored the study with Alan Leslie of Rutgers University.

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 explained, 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,” she explained.

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