8 December 2013

How smart are babies, really?

The baby scene at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is what it feels like to be a parent.

One thing nobody can explain to you when you're expecting your first child is just how earth-shatteringly miraculous babies are. My son is now five months old and not a day passes when I'm not overwhelmed by the fact that an organism that didn't even exist fourteen months ago has been able to develop into such a complex, animated person. It feels impossible that the meaning to the universe doesn't lie in his little head.

So, it beggars belief that scientists have been so slow to turn to babies when trying to understand humans in general. For my latest feature in The Observer, I've been looking at baby research (inspired by a visit to the wonderful Babylab at University College London, which you should also sign up for if you happen to be a parent of a young one). And what has surprised me the most is just how new the whole field is. Until as late as the 1960s many people assumed that babies were just very stupid adults. We now know that's far from the truth. In fact, some researchers think that they hold the key to understand intelligence.

To find out more, please do pick up this Sunday's Observer. And, as always, please do let me know what you think.

3 comments:

Abhishek said...

Very nice information. Thank you for sharing it. Thanks pmd

Anant Nanda said...

I've a feeling that babies understand things much before they can communicate. And when they start verbal communication they utter about events that are traced back to the time they have had no speech.

Milla said...

Miracles of God.