Netflix Twelve Part Series ‘Babies’ Episode: #7 WHAT BABIES KNOW

Challenging the notion of the ‘blank slate’ three studies explore how babies are born with expectations about every day life.

How does a baby adapt to her world?  Is she born with an understanding of gravity?  Why is it faces are so important to little ones?  Are they born with the knowledge of how the world works?

These are just a few of the questions researchers set out to understand in this the 7th episode of ‘BABIES’!!  Certainly these are questions every parent has mulled over at some point in time.  The thoughts going on in those little heads have baffled the world for millennia.    

The research is fascinating.  Susan Hespos. Professor Cognitive Psychology, Northwestern University,  USA.  Chicago, Illinois:  measured eye movement and attention span to study how babies differentiate between concepts they already know and new ones.  She tested 20 babies, providing them visuals she created.  They stared at their favorite for an average of 33 seconds while watching the not so exciting one 15 seconds.  Her studies prove cognitive ability unseen in babies in the animal kingdom.  Only human babies have this skill.  

Rebecca Saxe. Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience. Mass Inst of Tech,  Boston, USA set out to measure infant brains through MRI scans.  Until she began the youngest MRI scans available were on five year olds.  She soon learned why.  Infants simply can not sit still long enough to complete scans.  Prof. Saxe tried to conquer this battle for two years, until she gave birth to her own son.  She talks about being overwhelmed with the magnitude of her love for him and her desire to mother him.  Yes, as mentioned previously, there is nothing like parenthood. It truly does overwhelm one!!! 

Prof. Saxe wanted to compare brain scans of infants to those of adults to measure the similarities and differences.  Finally, after many attempts, Saxe was able to produce these scans with her infant son as the subject.  The results verified her assertions, just like adult brains, infant brains are stimulated in the same places and react the same way!

Conclusion: Infant brains are far more advanced than previously understood.  Continued study is necessary to further understand the many facets of these experiments. 

Susan Hespos. Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Northwestern University,  USA.  Chicago, Illinois Investigated concentration and memory ability through eye positioning.

Kang Lee, Professor Dr. Eric Jackman, Institute of Child Study, University of Toronto, Canada. Studied the relatively short period of time in which infants can differentiate between people of differing racial presentation and language understanding.

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