Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How our earliest memories gel

Perri Klass, M.D. wrote about babies and memories in the New York Times Well blog. An excerpt:

"Several decades ago it was thought that very young infants did not have the capacity for forming memories, said Patricia Bauer, a professor of psychology at Emory University. As techniques have been developed for testing infants and very young children, it has been found that 'the neural structures creating those representations in infancy are qualitatively the same as in older children and adults,' she said.

"The crucial structure for episodic memory, the memory of autobiographical events, is the hippocampus, that little curved ridge in the middle of the brain whose shape reminded a 16th-century anatomist of a sea horse. Dr. Bauer compared memory forming to making gelatin: 'The experience is the liquid gelatin; you pour it into a mold. The mold is the hippocampus, and it has to go through a process of refrigeration known as consolidation.'

"So memories can form in even very young children, it seems. But it is not clear that they can be retrieved.

"Recent research suggests that some of those very early memories may actually be held into childhood, but then lost as children grow into adolescence. And research has also shown a strong cultural component to the question of how far back children remember."

Read the whole article on the New York Times web site.

How babies use numbers, space and time
What is your baby thinking?

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