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April 10, 2020 Friday 01:19:02 AM IST

Babies retain even detailed events during a nap

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Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) Leipzig and the Humboldt University (HU) Berlin, together with researchers from Lübeck and Tübingen, have now shown for the first time in their study published in Nature Communications that babies also build their episodic memory when they nap. This enables them to remember the details of their individual experiences after napping. The scientists examined this relationship using a three-phase study. During the learning phase, the 14 to 17-month-old children were shown pictures of objects whose names they already knew, containing different cars, balls or dogs. They then heard the appropriate name for each picture. One group of the children spent the following one to two hours sleep, while a second group stayed awake. In the subsequent test phase, the researchers showed the young participants different pictures again, including those that they had already seen in the learning phase as well as new cars, balls and dogs. Each object was once named correctly and once incorrectly. During all phases of the experiment, the researchers recorded the baby's brain activity using the electroencephalogram (EEG).

The results are also interesting with respect to the so-called infantile amnesia, i.e. the phenomenon of not being able to remember one's own early childhood experiences. It has often been assumed that very young children are not yet capable of forming longer-term episodic knowledge. However, the current findings clearly show that even babies can remember events in detail - and sleep contributes significantly to this.


(Content and Image Courtesy: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-04/mpif-bre040720.php)


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