Attachment is an evolutionary achievement that is defined in the textbook as being "an enduring socio-emotional relationship"(pg. 173). It is an evolutionary achievement because it allows the individual a more likely chance of surviving. In this paper, I will be discussing how infants are able to develop attachment even though they have a limited long-term memory capacity.
The infant usually develops attachment to the mother, but it does not always have to be the mother. Attachment is able to form with anyone who shows a responsive, caring attitude toward the infant, such as a father or grandparent. It is natural that a newborn shows attachment to it's mother, as she was the one who carried it for nine months. When a baby is born, it recognizes the smell and sounds its mother makes. The mother is able to comfort and soothe the newborn like no one else can. The instant attraction the newborn has to its mother is a primitive reflex. .
The brain of an infant is wired so that it remembers things from the past, but over time, the infant can no longer recall the memory if it is not reminded constantly of the memory. But remarkably, a cue can serve to bring up a memory that seems to have been forgotten (pg. 143). There are certain parts of the brain that are responsible for memory. These parts include the hippocampus, the amygdala, and the frontal cortex. The hippocampus and the amygdala are primarily responsible for the initial storage of information, and develop very early in the infant's life. The frontal cortex is responsible for retrieving these stored memories and develops later and more slowly than the previous two. None of these structures are fully matured in the newborn, which easily explains why their memory improves throughout the first 2-3 years of their lives. .
John Bowlby describes four phases in the growth of attachment: pre-attachment, attachment in the making, true attachment, and reciprocal relationships.