Procedural Memory

Procedural Memory

Does your infant or toddler really remember anything she is learning at Romp n’ Roll?  If you ask her to recall what she acquired from the classes, she probably won’t be able to tell you a lot of detail.  But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t remember anything.

Once we get the hang of language, we routinely encode our memories in verbal form.  After all, one word can represent a lot of information and experience.  So when requested to recall something, we “declare” the memory.  For instance, when asked, “Who was the first president of the United States?” we simply say, “George Washington.”

However, particularly during the early years before language is well developed, many memories get encoded in procedural rather than verbal form.  Consequently, they are more like “muscle” memories than “mental” memories.  For instance, if you are asked, “How do you tie your shoe laces?” you might respond, “I don’t know…I just do it!”  You clearly remember how to tie your shoe laces, but when required to put it into words you can’t do it.

The fact is that a lot of what is going on at Romp n’ Roll will have a lasting impact.  It may not be retained in verbal form, but along with walking, riding a bike, using utensils, and a host of other important lessons from the early years, it is being well preserved in procedural form.

Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll.  After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project.  He may be contacted via e-mail at drmike@romproll.com.

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