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Let the Good Times Roll: Babies Seem to Remember Positive Experiences Over Negative Ones

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"Heightens the babies’ attentional system."

Researchers found that babies were more likely to remember something if it was accompanied with a positive attitude rather than an angry one. (Image source: BYU)

Though it might seem pointless at times to put on a bright, cheery face while holding up soft books or blocks for your baby to gaze at, a new study suggests pairing this positive emotion with the possible learning experience could help the memory stick. 

The research from scientists at Brigham Young University found that 5-month-olds remembered experiencing positive emotions far more than negative ones.

Researchers found that babies were more likely to remember something if it was accompanied with a positive attitude rather than an angry one. (Image source: BYU) Researchers found that babies were more likely to remember something if it was accompanied with a positive attitude rather than an angry one. (Image source: BYU)

“People study memory in infants, they study discrimination in emotional affect, but we are the first ones to study how these emotions influence memory,” BYU psychology professor Ross Flom said in a statement.

The researchers showed babies in the study someone on a TV screen with a happy, neutral or angry voice next to an image of a geometric shape. Follow-up tests were conducted five minutes and one day later using the geometric shapes they had already been exposed to as well as new ones.

Babies seemed to best recognize the shapes that were paired with positive sounding voices.

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

This research was published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development.

(H/T: Science Daily)

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