One Lesson To Learn From Babies About Happiness

A study published in Infant Behavior and Development by BYU says 5 months old babies can only remember positive events other than negative ones.  As Adults, we do remember emotional events i.e. highly charged ones, usually the worst ones. While all the Infants could remember are the good ones.

The uttermost things babies communicate about are affect and emotion. The baby can’t say she’s hungry or upset, but she can cry and let those around her be aware of her mood, said Ross Flom, an associate professor of psychology who is also the lead author.

Try asking a child or adult about the first memory he had, he will likely recollect those pleasure times of age 3 or 4.

We know memory forms in infants, but they don’t remember them, said Flom, who explained that describing early memory involves language and babies don’t have that, so very young memory is “stored in kind of a sensory-motor type of code.”

A newborn can recognize and remember the sound of his mother’s voice, though he only heard it in utero, Flom said. “They are capable of learning and knowledge.”

In this study, babies were set by the researchers in front of a flat-panel monitor on which an individual spoke with either a happy, angry or neutral voice and face. Then they were shown a geometric picture similar to what one might see in a kaleidoscope, made up in the colors black, blue and gray.

After five minutes and again a day later, the babies were shown the original image from the study and a new one next to it of the same colors, pattern slightly rearranged. The researchers looked to see what the baby was eyeballing, since babies are known to prefer to look at new, unfamiliar things. They measured where the infants looked and for how long.

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The babies’ memories for the pictures were significantly better when the first exposure was linked to a positive voice and face.

We think what happens is that the positive affect heightens the babies’ attentional system and arousal,” Flom said in background material for the study. “By heightening those systems, we heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”

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