. 1 lifelong Learning
Infants' ability to remember objects after those Items are out of sIght Is a key area tracked by Steve ReznIck ' 73, a
professor at UNC, and hIs colleagues. ReznIck will share hIs research at an Ocl 17 class through the GAA's Carolina
College for Ufelong LearnIng.
Number of GAA members'
Top three classes
(by nu",ber of ",ell/bers)
Top five N.C. counties
(by ","",bers"ip pmellia,l/e)
Top three non-N.C. states
(by mClllbrrship perCflltagc)
South Carolina 29
'"s ofjuly 27, 2006
Ifyou think you know how babies think, think again
By the time an infant is born, he knows a few
things about the world that
"A newborn baby is
already quite adept at recog-
nizing his mother's voice,"
said Steve Reznick ' 73, a
professor ofpsychology and
director ofthe department's
progranl in developmental
Even in the womb, babies
use their developing senses to
hear and feel their way
around their environment so
that at birth, certain sensa-
tions already are familiar. But
it takes several months before
newborn infants can retain
these feelings offamiliarity
moments after a friendly
object or sound is removed
from their perception.
The emergence ofshort-term memory is one of the
milestones and challenges in infant cognitive develop-
ment that Reznick will explore as he presents recent
findings of his research in"Infant Mind," an Oct. 17
program of the GAA's Carolina College for Lifelong
Reznick identifies short-term memory as a"pro-
found change" in an infant's cognitive development,
and one that dranlatically alters the relationship parents
have with a child.
Using simple ganles, Reznick and his colleagues can
track an infant's ability to hold on to the memory of an
object after it is gone. Between the ages of 5 and 7
months, a child's reaction to having a toy taken away
and hidden will start to change.
"A 5-month-old will look at you like, 'OK,' because
it doesn't remember the thing it was playing with,"
Reznick said. But one month later, the child will start
to search for the toy. Six-month-old infants have creat-
ed a memory of the toy that allows them to think
about where the toy has gone.
Reznick said that memory is fleeting, lasting only a
few seconds. But it marks a turning point in cognitive
development because it allows the infant to "hold on
to the past and think about what's going to happen
As the capacity for short-term memory increases,
infants begin to have goals. The goals can be simple,
such as reaching a rattle by crawling or getting atten-
tion by crying, but the ability to remember things that
are absent has other consequences for infants.
S e ptember / October 2006