In case you are not in tune with the latest challenges flooding the internet, there’s something called the ‘Cheese Challenge’. Apparently, people are flinging cheese slices on their dear baby’s face and filming the reaction. While the entire thing looks funny, with the babies laughing, crying, and being stunned into silence, there’s something you need to know. Brenhouse studied the effect and found out something important.
Brenhouse is an associate professor of psychology at Northeastern University, who is also studying developmental neuroscience and psychology. She says that the babies’ reactions “are less about what just happened and more about the sensations they’re currently feeling: a cool, smooth, piece of cheese on their face.”
It is obvious that babies’ brains are still in the development phase. Humans’ subcortical regions are the ones to grow first. It means that babies only can discern their basic visceral needs. The higher-order cortical regions of the brain are the one to connect new things to past experience. What’s more, it has not developed yet. They are, as one can gather, not sure whether having a cheese slice on their face is a normal thing or an abnormal one.
“Every experience is a brand-new experience for a baby,” Brenhouse says. “Those experiences are driving how their brains develop. In these cases, the babies have no reason to believe that this is good, bad, strange, or commonplace. They are learning with each experience.”
Everyone can see how clueless the babies are in the video. However, Brenhouse says it is not that harmful. In case of the cheese challenge, the presence of the parents diffuses the otherwise stress-inducing experience. The baby brain goes on to believe that these are the people taking care of me, so this must be fine. Brenhouse doesn’t really support parents joining this cheese challenge, but about those who have already done it, she doesn’t think they’ve caused any harm.