Infant memory capacity

Literature Review

The topic of infant memory capacity has been highly debated throughout the span of history. For many years, most individuals believed that infants had minimal capacity for any type of memory. This belief was known as "infantile amnesia" and explained that until around the age of toddlerhood, infants were not able to form, and later retrieve, any type of information from this period of life. As a result of this, it was also believed that any early life traumas that infants endured would not be carried into childhood and adulthood; however, over the years researchers began to understand that infants were actually in a position to form some memories. Since that time, a number of studies and experiments have been conducted which explore the many areas of memory and how infants are able to work through this technique at such an early age. By using such memory techniques as repetition, habituation, and deferred imitation, researchers could actually show evidence demonstrating infant memory capabilities. That is an important topic to analyze because early life events that occur within an infant's life gets the potential to have an impact on their later life cognitive and emotional development. You will find major implications regarding how the infant is handled and simulated during infancy as well as the environments and cognitive encounters they are exposed to. Throughout a time before individuals commenced to question this notion of "infantile amnesia" some of these issues were not considered major concerns as people believed they might not have any effect on the newborn. At the moment, it's been demonstrated that may not be the truth. By using many current research studies, there is evidence that infants can form memories as well as maintain several memories from infancy to later adolescence and adulthood.

Although there has been this debate surrounding infant memory, it is believed that an infant's memory is formed in the same what an adults memory is. Previous studies show that their memory will not develop hierarchically as previously believed and this instead exists from a young age, possibly at birth or in-utero (Rovee-Collier). It has been shown through tasks finished with young infants which tap different memory systems just as where adults process this information. (Rovee-Collier). Even though these memory systems can be found in infants, it has also been discovered that an infant's memory increases throughout the first couple of years of life in order that they are able to hold longer memories as well as for a longer time period (Rovee-Collier). Some of the biggest obstacles in studying memory have been due to the fact that infants are unable to give researchers subjective accounts of these experiences. Because they can not yet speak, it has been very important to researchers to ascertain other nonverbal ways in which infants can demonstrate they have actually remembered something. This has been done through kicking tasks, eye tracking, and other physical traits which might demonstrate memory. Also, another issue has risen from the general inability of teenagers and adults who can speak to verbally discuss memories using their company childhood; therefore, much research has been done to determine whether they are not remembering or if the context and storage of these nonverbal memories at a age are interfering with later verbal repetition. This too has been difficult to study as it may also be hard to determine whether individuals are relaying their own memories or memories which have been conditioned to them through other individuals in their lives. Current studies have viewed several issues and developed experiments around them which demonstrate the capability for infant memory.

Because it's been found that infant memory systems are somewhat developed and with the capacity of forming memory at birth, researchers have questioned whether infants too can form memory while still only a fetus. In the analysis by Ditrix, Nijhuis, Jongsma, and Hornstra called Areas of fetal learning and memory; the researchers looked at habituation in the fetus of women that are pregnant. Habituation refers to a reduction in response directed at a certain stimulus that has been repeatedly stimulated in the individual's presence. This phenomena is distinguishable from others because when the stimulus changes, there must be an instantaneous re-emergence of attention directed at the new stimulus. Also, when the first stimulus is repeated, the average person should faster habituation to it following the initial presentation (Ditrix et al. . 2009). This study first recruited 100 women that are pregnant between 28 and 38 weeks gestation. There is extensive exclusion criteria for the ladies including absence of disorder in the ladies, no use of mediation, no depression, no change in diet plan, and smoking less than 6 cigarettes per day, amongst others. Although the analysis commenced with 100 participants there were dropouts due to other problems and then the final sample included 93 women. The primary hypothesis of the analysis was that infants would habituate to vibroacoustic stimulus which would be measured at intervals depicting both short-term and permanent memory storage. At thirty second intervals, a vibroacoustic stimulus was put on the girl abdomen near to the fetal legs and movement of the fetus one second after the stimulus was given was monitored by an ultrasound machine (Ditrix et al. , 2009). The maximum range of stimuli given through the test was 24, if the fetus was still responding at the 21st stimulus, no further stimuli received to the fetus and for that reason no habituation occurred. At the end of the study, the results were somewhat good hypothesis. At 30 weeks gestation, almost the all the fetuses tested demonstrated habituation. In each group, there is a significant decline in the original stimuli versus the repeated habituation test in the first session. The results of the study demonstrated that fetuses have a short term memory for ten minutes at 30 weeks and that there surely is some evidence to suggest they are able to hold long run memories for four weeks (Ditrix et al. , 2009). One important aspect of the results is that it is essential to know if the results were actually due to habituation or if indeed they represent some form of fatigue or receptor adaptation. This is shown through the actual fact that when a new stimulus is presented, dishabituation should occur. That is one major limitation of the analysis for the reason that although the study could demonstrate faster habituation to the first stimulus, they didn't present another stimulus which would demonstrate dishabituation to be able show that the results were in fact for this reason phenomenon of habituation. Therefore, as the results may be salient, we cannot confidently conclude that they were specifically due to habituation and not another process. Another limitation of the study is that there may well not have been enough participants to give the study the power it needs because unpaired statistics often need more participant cases to be able to reach an increased degree of significance. Therefore, to be able to boost the power and validity of the statements regarding long-term memory storage, it might be important to conduct more info to confirm these results (Ditrix et al. , 2009).

Although there have been many studies that demonstrate the fact that fetus be capable of form memory in the womb like the one done by Ditrix et al. , hardly any studies have demonstrated the persistence of fetal memory into infant life. The study done by Gonzalez-Gonzalez et al. really helps to show the link between these two life stages (2006). That is important to review because it is believed that fetal memory can actually serve some functions in conditions of parental attachment to the mother and also recognition of the infant's mother. Therefore, it is essential to learn whether fetal memory stays intact after birth since it might well have a potential effect on these variables. The present study contains forty-one pregnant women who have been 38 to 40 weeks pregnant who had an absence of both medical and obstetric disorders, not toxic habits and cephalic presentation (Gonzalez et al. , 2006). Through the technique of the analysis, the fetus were stimulated using an artificial larynx repeatedly every minute for no more than 24 stimuli. This is actually the same method found in the Ditrix et al. study along with others as it has been proven to lead to habituation. This study determined habituation when the fetus stopped responding to four repeated stimuli. This test is different from the Ditrix et al. study because the researchers presented these stimulations every 48 to 72 hours before fetus was delivered and the other or two days after delivery, the habituation assessment occurred. The results of the study demonstrated that all of the fetuses showed a confident response to the stimulus presented after birth. Also, infants that were stimulated in utero habituated earlier than infants who weren't previously subjected to the stimulus (Gonzalez et al. , 2006). This gives some evidence that fetal memories have the ability to persist into infant life. Furthermore, it demonstrates that not absolutely all infants have the same convenience of memory formation. Generally, the longer it took the fetus to habituate in the first area of the study, the longer it took the infant to habituate after birth. This study went more into depth than the Ditrix et al. study although both used lots of the same methods. One limitation of the study among others which study habituation is the fact that there were hardly any participants and for that reason this may reduce the power of the entire study. Previous studies also demonstrated this problem (such as the Ditrix et al. study) and many contained more participants than this study did. It's important that further research be achieved to eliminate any errors that occurred in this particular study and increase the validity of the results. Another limitation is the fact that following the initial presentation, some fetus received more presentation of the stimulus than others before these were born. This may introduce another variable of repetition or priming effects that were not accounted for within the study. One major strength of this study that was not included in the Ditrix et al. study was that the researchers used the process of dishabituation in order to eliminate other effects that may cause the fetus to avoid responding.

The study involving habituation by Gonzalez et al. may involve some limitation and confounding variables, but it addittionally demonstrates other areas of infant memory that is important to explore: repetition and priming effects. There were many studies done which involve these variables, yet after a long time of research, the precise process involved in the encoding, storage and retrieval of memories still remains largely unaccounted for (Turati, 2008). This study consisted of three separate experiments. The first one viewed the effect of an interfering stimulus on a newborn's memory for a particular geometric pattern and the second one looked at the effect of further exposing the newborn to the geometric pattern in order to reduce the loss of recognition which occurs after interference. For experiment 1, the analysis consisted of 65 infants, 30 boys and 35 girls, which were 1-3 day old healthy, full-term infants. The stimulus that was used through the study was hexagonal and X-shaped white geometric figures that had a black background. The first phase contains habituating the infants to a flickering LED light and then projecting the geometric condition to the infant and then recorded how long the infant remained fixed on the shape (Turati, 2008). The distracter form was then presented and at the end of this test the results showed that the infant preferred the control more than the interference condition. These findings demonstrated that whenever a distracter stimulus is introduced between a habituation and test phase, this causes inhibition of the infants recognition response. In the second experiment, 31 subjects were used (17 girls and 14 boys) and the experiment had a similar set-up to that of the first. One difference was that prior to the test phase, they re-presented the familiar stimulus for 15 seconds. The results of this part of the study showed that whenever the infant's memory was inhibited by the distracter stimulus, it could be reactivated by using a reminder stimulus of the previously forgotten stimulus (Turati, 2008). This is significant since it demonstrates the importance of the repetition priming effect in memory storage which this study shows exists at birth. One limitation of this study is usually that the preference of the newborn to the novelty stimulus that are due to the fact that the newborn is becoming familiarized with this stimulus. Another criticism would be that the distracter may cause the infant to habituate to the stimulus and therefore they would be unable to show a reaction response. Further studies should be done in order to rule this out. Another important aspect of the study that needs to be further explored is whether during the repetition priming area of the study, if the newborn need to be exposed to the previous stimulus completely or when a partial reminder of the stimulus would produce the same results. The importance of this study is the fact that it shows infants have the capacity for memory storage and that this storage gets the potential to be increased through repetition.

Another study that looks at the impact of repetition on early childhood memory involves an apparatus that is very much indeed a part of our society: the tv screen. The prior study viewed the result of distracters and the impact of repetition while this study by Barr, Muentener, Garcia, Fujimoto, and Chavez ramifications of imitation caused by repetition. Television is a very prevalent part of our lives today and it has been shown that the quantity of exposure in infants is high (Barr et al. . 2007). This study builds off previous tests by Bandura et al. (1963) which demonstrate the actual fact that children were much more likely to show aggressive acts once they watched them on television. The authors of the study wished to see if this effect could be seen in young infants also. That is important to look at because previous studies never have determined the effect of repetition in infant television set programming as a lot of what they are watching tend to be repetitions of specific shows. Similar to the Turati et al. (2008) study, this research was also broken down into multiple experiments. The participants in the first experiment contains 108 full-term, healthy infants (58 girls and 50 boys). The infants were assigned to 1 of three groups that have been a live administration given three times, a video given six times or set up a baseline control condition. a day following the infant was subjected to the live session or recorded videos, a researcher returned and presented the stimuli presented in the demonstration stage in front of the child. The results implies that there is no significant difference between the individuals subjected to the live versus recorded sessions but that they both had higher levels of imitation than the control group whom had not been exposed to the test stimuli. The second experiment viewed only 21 month olds and seeks to determine whether there was a video deficit present in these infants who have been exposed to more recorded tv that may well not be in younger infants. This part of the study employed 12 infants who were 21 months-old. The results of this part of the experiment again showed that infants who were subjected to the live and recorded situations showed a significantly higher score than the control group which again demonstrates repetition effects. One interesting finding was that the infants who had been shown the video three times had a significantly lower score than the infants who had been shown the live demonstration 3 x. This demonstrates repeated exposure can really raise the imitation of the desired action. The very last part of the study wished to determine whether infants as young as a year could imitate stimuli from tv after deferred imitation as previous studies declare that 14 months is the youngest age of which infants can do this (Barr et al. , 2007). This area of the research used 36 full term, healthy 12 month-old infants and the results again demonstrated that the infants had higher imitation scores than the baseline with no difference between live and recorded administrations. One limitation of these experiments by Barr et al (2007) is the fact that there could be some perceptual coding problems. For example, it can be that it's harder to transfer the 2D images on the tv from the 3D images that are presented before the infant and therefore may make clear why this video deficit is occurring. Seeing the stimuli in the 3D demonstration could make it easier for deferred imitation that occurs in the same medium of 3D presentation. Further research should employ more technology to be able to separate these effects from the results. Also, the presentation of the stimuli by the different researchers varied across the participants and for that reason this could experienced some influence on the results. It's important that future research make the live administrations more uniform across the several presentation. Despite these methodological issues, this study implies that there can be an important role of technology in infant learning and memory and shows infants do have the capability to remember things that they see on television. This finding is also significant in conditions of videos and programs made to improve infant intelligence that may carry onto later life outcomes.

Another article by Defrancisco and Rovee-Collier (2008) explores the effects of priming on young infants and exactly how it can lead to the re-emergence of once forgotten memories. The fact that infants can "forget" may serve to show that they were able to form the memory in the first place. That is an important concept because for memories in infancy to affect later life outcomes, these memories need to be remembered and retained within the individual. In order for a memory to be properly retrieved the cues must match the cues from the original exposure with the memory. With this study, 138 infants were used. Like the other studies that have been discussed, these infants were all full-term and healthy. That is an important aspect of the studies because having infants that aren't healthy or properly developed may have the potential to eschew the results. The method of this study followed previous studies conducted by Rovee-Collier designed to use a train task and a mobile task with regards to the age. The infants were trained and tested with the mobile that was hand-painted and then the infant had no previous exposure to it. Their ankles were connected to a string which mounted on the mobile and each time the infant kicked, the mobile moved. The train task was only applied to infants 6 months and over as it had not been appropriate for 3 month-olds. The procedure of the study consisted of three different phases in which the infants received workout sessions that were given a day apart. After a week, they received a reactivation treatment and after another day a long-term retention test. The first area of the training began with a nonreinforcement period accompanied by a reinforcement period and on the other hand another nonreinforcement period. The first experiment viewed what sort of reactivated memory could be retrieved by a cue that was general. This answers one of the limitations presented in a previous study by Turati (2008) which didn't demonstrate this in the analysis. For the 9 month-old infants in this study, it was found that they showed significant retention if they were tested with an alternative train in the same environment or with the same train in some other environment. For the 12 month-olds, similar results were collected. For the next experiment in the study, the researchers viewed whether 9 and 12 month-old infants could be primed with a different cue in the same environment or the same cue in an alternative environment when these were tested with the original cue in the original environment after a day. The 9 month-olds showed remembering when these were primed with a different cue in the same environment but not when these were primed with the initial cue in a new environment (Defransisco & Rovee-Collier, 2008). This was the opposite for the 12 month-olds. These findings show that by the finish of the first year, environmentally friendly constraints on remembering certain stimuli are most likely less than any moment before. This study shows how infant memory exists but also ever changing as the infant grows and matures. Moreover, as infants grow older, the quantity of time that a cue can be remembered increases with this age increase. Also, the additional time that has elapsed between your first cue and subsequent reminders of the cue escalates the likelihood that the cue will never be remembered. The results demonstrate the value of repetition in strengthening infant memory. One limitation of this study is that there is not consistency in the variation between different contexts of the analysis. To be able to enhance the accuracy and generalizability of the study, it would be important to keep this variable stable throughout the analysis. Also, as holds true with the other studies, the sample size may be too small on some of the individual experiments due to the fact that some could only be performed with infants of a certain age.

Many studies, such as one previously discussed involving tv set cues have looked into the thought of deferred imitation as a way to determine memory in infants (Barr et al. , 2007). Although this was area of the study they appeared to focus more on the effects that priming can have upon this. A report done by Goertz, Kolling, Frahsek, Stanisch, and Knopf (2007), used the deferred imitation task in order to evaluate declarative memory in 12 month-old infants. Within this study infants were shown a series of objects watching, but do not touch, the demonstration of how the objects are employed. They are simply then given these props at some point later and observed concerning whether the target action is repeated. A task such as this would show that the infant remembered the way the objects was previously used and that they both acquired the information and thought we would voluntarily retrieve and utilize this information (Goertz et al. , 2007). Because of this study 24 children (9 girls and 15 boys) were included whose ages ranged from 11 months and 15 days to a year and 15 days. Much like all previous studies, this is a severe limitation of the study for the reason that the results may not hold the same power as a study that included more infants would. The results of this study showed that the tin can, cup and knife and drum used as the action items were spontaneously performed more regularly than the toy pig and mouse were. This study showed that it's possible to study declarative memory in infants toward the end of the first year of life. Because these infants are actively choosing to manipulate the thing in the required way, this demonstrates that it's in fact declarative memory that has been shown. Although the authors did not discuss this, Barr et al. demonstrated this notion too that the infants which were repeating the things viewed on the television set and live show were probably doing this using declarative memory. This is a hard concept to understand because so many people assume that declarative memory is mostly verbal; however, this is not the case as shown by the tests done with the 12 month-olds where speech is not adequately developed. Not surprisingly, through their nonverbal actions they could demonstrate the actual fact that they have retained a memory through repetition of actions previously seen.

Previously, infant memory is a highly debated topic. Many individuals believed that infants had almost no convenience of memory before the age of two. If was furthermore believed that any events that occurred in the infants life were quickly forgotten and were not able to be consciously recalled in adulthood. Current studies show that infants do in fact have convenience of memory, both short and lasting; however, the extent to which this memory can be retained continues to be the topic of much research. Through the use of many current clinical tests, this literature review will explore how infants can develop memories as well as the extent to which infants can retain these memories from an early on age and how they can be maintained over the long term.

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