There’s some positive news about babies and memory…very positive. A new study out of Brigham Young University shows that 5-month-old babies are more likely to remember things they’ve learned in their day when it was taught in a positive tone.
It’s no surprise babies are aware of emotions, even those beyond their own. Babies are terrific at mimicking, which is why your baby’s first smile will likely come when you are smiling too. It’s also why keeping a calm composure around your baby is important. Babies will pick up on negativity, which may affect their psyche later in life, including trying to copy undesirable responses.
In the first study of its kind, BYU researchers were able to determine that babies learn better under happy circumstances. In this case, babies were exposed to happy, neutral and angry voices immediately followed by a shape appearing on a screen. By recording eye movement, researchers measured longer engagement with shapes that were paired with positive voices. The measurement was recorded 5 minutes after the voice/shape test and the following day. The study was published in the medical journal Infant Behavior and Development.
“We think what happens is that the positive affect heightens the babies’ attentional system and arousal,” lead author of the study Professor Ross Flom said. “By heightening those systems, we heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”
This study does not cover how long babies at the young age of 5-months retain memories, but it does give great insight into the best ways to teach children starting from infancy. A happy, encouraging environment, including using a cheerful voice can make a difference. While most 5-months old won’t form lasting memories for quite some time, this study indicates they will be more likely to remember good times.
Other studies show that babies who are exposed to music and language in infancy start to develop an ear for music and language early in life. Moreover, the mere introduction and repetition of these influences increase overall brain connectivity.
Your baby may not yet be able to respond to you with words, but putting a positive spin on how you teach your baby at this most critical period of learning can help your baby learn more. Plus, upbeat, kind conversation is what you’ll want your baby to emulate when the words do finally come.