Thu, 24 May 2012 05:44:43 GMT

Babies can understand what''s complex or boring: Study



Washington, May 24 (PTI) Pushy parents often think giving new gadgets will help improve their baby''s intelligence. But a new study has found that infants as young as seven months are able to parse out what is too-complex or boring, and focus on only what they can handle.

The study, published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE, provides evidence for an idea about baby cognition that makes intuitive sense, said lead study author Celeste Kidd from the University of Rochester.

The thinking goes that babies organise their search for information in the world in a way that makes the most sense for efficient learning.

If a baby looks at something and it seems too simple, suggesting there''s not much learning value, he or she won''t pay attention to that situation or object, Kidd was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

The same holds for stuff that''s too complex, which would seemingly hold a trove of learning potential, but which is actually not an efficient use of their brain time, she said.

In their study, Kidd and her team tracked the attention patterns of 72 babies, aged seven to eight months, using an eye-tracking device just below a computer screen. As long as the babies stared at the screen, the events being played out continued; but as soon as they looked away, suggesting no more interest, the trial ended.

In one experiment, the infants watched video animations of items, such as a pacifier or ball, appearing from behind three colourful boxes. Babies consistently lost interest when the video became too predictable, which meant the probability of a subsequent event happening was very high.

Similarly when events on screen were "too surprising" they were not enthralled either, but simply turned off.

"You would think that the more complex something is, the more interesting it would be. That''s not the case with babies," study co-author Richard Aslin said.

The infants'' attention and eye gaze, also drifted away when the sequence of events become too surprising, when the pattern seemed unpredictable due to the probability of something happening becoming very low.

So if your little one is getting fussy by the little dance you''re doing, change it up and add another move or sound to boost the learning potential.

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