Netflix Twelve Part Series ‘Babies’ #8 MOVEMENT

From curiosity to understanding researchers unveil surprising ways infants learn how to anticipate and respond to the movements of others.

The study of movement, how we learn as humans to acclimate to our environment, affects everything about us.  How do babies learn?  How early are babies aware of patterns and experiences in their lives?  What are the best stimuli for infants?

These and many other questions are addressed in this segment on movement.  Using the “blank slate” understanding of years past no longer applies.  Research in many countries establishes babies are magnificent observers and are aware from birth!  It is only their inability to speak and their physical development that has masked this.  

Audrey Van Der Meer. Professor Neuropsychology, Norwegian University of Science & Technology    Trodenheim, Norway

Ven Der Meer wanted to research the intent of baby movement.  Question: At what age do infants began intentionally moving?  

Her research began with Neonate Subjects: Babies under 24 days of age.  She and her team ran thorough studies filming babies watching their hands.  They used weights and pulleys to create tension in movement, proving intent.  When a baby pulled against the weights to look at his hand this was seen as intention.  The non-viewed hand lay dormant during the experiments.  This was proven through further experimentation.  Van Der Meer submitted  the findings of each of her three different studies before the governing board in Norweigh approved and funded her results/research.

Pierre-Yvves Oudeyer. Research Director, Inria Institute for Digital Sciences, Bordeaux, France. 

What challenges babies/children to learn new things of their environment? Oudeyer developed mini robots having intelligence/learning mechanisms. 

First group of two robots:  learning to move a ball.  Learned nothing. Second group:  Free to exercise their curiosity     Learned to move ball.  After two and a half hours the second group had accomplished the goal.


Curiosity is open ended, it allows more knowledge and learning even in robots!  Exploring freely is most productive.

Gustaf Gredebac. Professor Developmental Psychology Upsalla, University Sweden We need to understand the movement of others to know where to walk, run, sit, stand. 

Premise:  “Babies are not born with the ability to anticipate, they have to learn this.”  Disproved this in his ball to bucket experiment

12 month olds understand this.   6 months olds do not

Banana feeding experiment.  4 month olds, 6 month olds, 12 month olds. Machines measure eye tracking in great detail. All babies were very attentive to the researchers feeding each other. Bananas.     Babies with much experience in being fed understood

Participants would put bananas into the mouth of the other, or on the hand of the other, than the other ate it off the hand. Older children had pronounced reaction to the change and unexpected nature of the event when food went to the hand.  Younger children did not.

The equipment also measured dealation of pupil

Later Gredeac understood that with each unique feeding all ages of babies reacted to the change in feeding behavior with surprise, even though the younger babies did not have a visible reaction.  They all knew something was different. Later, through thorough examination of the videos it was revealed that the pupils of younger infants responded by changing in size, a result not noticed in the preliminary evaluation.

“Being around these little people learning about life, the world, people is inspiring.”

Providing an experientially rich environment for your baby;  toys to touch, things to see, music to hear, tummy-time with places to move, other people, expands their horizons.

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