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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday August 16 2014, @07:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the peeeeeeeeek-A-BOO! dept.

From Concordia University:

A new study from Concordia shows that infants as young as 10-months old can tell the difference between the kinds of paths naturally taken by a walking animal, compared to a moving car or piece of furniture.

That's important information because the ability to categorize things as animate beings or inanimate objects is a fundamental cognitive ability that allows toddlers to better understand the world around them.

Since the study subjects could not express much in words, the researchers used a technique called the "visual habituation paradigm," which measures how long one looks at a given object.

"You can understand something about what babies know based on how long they look at something," explains former doctoral student Rachel Baker, who collaborated on the study with fellow researcher Tamara Pettigrew and Diane Poulin-Dubois, a professor in Concordia's Department of Psychology and member of the Centre for Research in Human Development. "Babies will look at something new longer than they will look at something that is already familiar to them."

Since computer animations of a bus or a table jumping over a wall held the attention of infants for longer than a bus or table bumping into a wall, it indicated the former was newer to them than the latter. In contrast, infants' attention was held just as well by a cat jumping over a wall as by a cat rebounding after running into a wall, indicating that infants think that cats can both jump and rebound.

This matches real life, says Baker, who obtained her PhD from Concordia and is now a research and statistical officer at the Cape Breton District Health Authority. "Animals do bump into objects -- if I'm not paying attention to where I'm going, I've been known to bump into things. The bigger picture is that the motion of objects is more predictable than the motion of animals. This research shows that even 10-month-old babies have some understanding of this."

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16 2014, @08:13AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16 2014, @08:13AM (#82020)

    I got two PhD-s for discovering that circle are round.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by aristarchus on Saturday August 16 2014, @08:57AM

      by aristarchus (2645) on Saturday August 16 2014, @08:57AM (#82023) Journal

      But were they animate, or inanimate? Or more importantly, did they have nipples and give milk?

      • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Saturday August 16 2014, @09:00AM

        by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Saturday August 16 2014, @09:00AM (#82024) Homepage
        Maybe babies can tell the difference between things that are a natural colour and things that are gaudy primaries?

        I blame the taxpayer for such shit science - they're the ones who funded it.
        --
        Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by wonkey_monkey on Saturday August 16 2014, @09:37AM

          by wonkey_monkey (279) on Saturday August 16 2014, @09:37AM (#82032) Homepage

          Yeah, maybe. But maybe they thought of that and allowed for it.

          Why do some people assume that any new study - that they know of only from a few paragraphs - must have the obvious flaw that they came up with in 30 seconds, but eluded the scientists who conducted the study?

          --
          systemd is Roko's Basilisk
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16 2014, @11:59AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16 2014, @11:59AM (#82053)

            Mainly because of lot of "scientists" that conduct press-release science actually don't know what they're doing, and we know it? There's a lot of bad science out there, and a large part of it is done in the "soft sciences" of psychology, sociology, and related fields.

            http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0887617705001071 [sciencedirect.com]

            • (Score: 3, Informative) by tathra on Saturday August 16 2014, @03:52PM

              by tathra (3367) on Saturday August 16 2014, @03:52PM (#82086)

              "soft sciences" of psychology,

              psychology is very much a "hard" science, backed in physical reality, and includes neuroscience and pharmacology. you're thinking of psychiatry, which is just bullshit, cocaine-fueled mumbojumbo. stop mixing up the two.

              • (Score: 2) by Magic Oddball on Sunday August 17 2014, @06:33AM

                by Magic Oddball (3847) on Sunday August 17 2014, @06:33AM (#82224) Journal

                You have them reversed -- from depression.about.com [about.com] (but found many other places):

                A psychologist primarily aids the depressed patient through counseling and psychotherapy. He may hold a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) and be called "doctor," but is not a medical doctor (M.D.).

                A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor, and while he may also perform psychotherapy, he can additionally prescribe medications and perform medical procedures such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

                That said, anybody that equates "soft" with "not real" when it comes to science is just showing their ignorance of the subject. It's a shame, too, because it results in people not holding research or researchers to anywhere near the level of scientific rigor that they should be pressured to maintain.

    • (Score: 2) by SlimmPickens on Saturday August 16 2014, @09:57AM

      by SlimmPickens (1056) on Saturday August 16 2014, @09:57AM (#82037)

      I got two PhD-s for discovering that circle are round.

      I agree. Temporal pattern matching is fundamental to thinking. Why wouldn't a baby be able to tell the diference between something moving in a straight line and something that isn't?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17 2014, @10:25AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17 2014, @10:25AM (#82249)

        Humans under 3 years of age are the most intelligent beings on Earth. They are able to recognize patterns they have no knowledge about and infer new ones on the fly. Adult humans are little better than glorified IBM Watsons attached to degenerate brains.
        I am 30 now and I can design software instinctively, detect race conditions by reading one paragraph of badly written English(?) specifications document text and pick up a new programming language on the fly.
        Actual thinking? The more I think, the more I realize I am too late to attempt it.

  • (Score: 1) by aristarchus on Saturday August 16 2014, @09:09AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Saturday August 16 2014, @09:09AM (#82027) Journal

    The summary refers to the primary researcher as "former doctoral student Rachel Baker". Hmm, if you refer to someone that way, it can only mean one thing, they no longer are a doctoral student, and usually not because of a lack of trying. But later it says Concordia (Phoenix?) granted her a degree. Hmmm. And more Hmmmm.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16 2014, @12:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 16 2014, @12:25PM (#82055)

      Perhaps this was their PhD thesis and now they are entering the 'real world'.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Subsentient on Saturday August 16 2014, @05:21PM

    by Subsentient (1111) on Saturday August 16 2014, @05:21PM (#82094) Homepage Journal

    Because I remember a surprisingly large amount from my early childhood with memories going back to 1 year old. I remember crawling around wanting more formula and being curious of the company in the house, not sure if they were going to live with us anymore, and there was a surprisingly large amount of thought going on in my head back then.

    --
    "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." -Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • (Score: 2) by zafiro17 on Saturday August 16 2014, @08:23PM

    by zafiro17 (234) on Saturday August 16 2014, @08:23PM (#82127) Homepage

    So, they can differentiate between boobies and wolverines. That's a good thing, if you believe in evolution. You wouldn't want to latch onto a wolverine for a good suck, after all.

    Thank $DEITY for these clever PhD students, advancing our knowledge of the world in important and breathtaking ways.

    --
    Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis - Jack Handey