August 12, 2005

Cognition in babies

Newsweek's cover story for Aug 15 is all about "Your Baby's Brain". Reads like a literature review lite on cognition in babies -- fascinating, and simple enough for non-scientists to understand. That's the way I like my cognitive science!

Turns out babies are very aware of others.
  • Sybil Hart at Texas Tech shows that at 6 months, babies can be jealous. Emotions, anyone?

  • Italian researchers, building on work by NYU's Martin Hoffman, shows that "infants" will cry when they hear tapes of other babies crying, but not when they hear tapes of themselves crying

  • Charles Nelson (Minnesota / Harvard), demonstrates that babies can distinguish chimp faces at 6 months, but they lose that ability at 9 months.

  • Patricia Kuhl at the Univ. of Washington, has been studying babies' ability to learn language; her recent research with 9-month-olds indicates that they'll learn another language from a real person, but not from a tape. Take that, baby Einstein!

  • The article even mentions some practical applications for all this research.

    There's a nice chart showing various aspects of the baby's brain; probably worth looking at the issue in print.

    This post is dedicated to Marie Evans & her new "subject".

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