Sunday May 27, 2018

Babies Can Understand Through Observation of People’s Action, Says Study

A new study suggests that babies learn to infer motivations of others much earlier than previously thought through observation of action and reaction.

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Babies Understanding
Babies Can Understand through Observation. Pixabay.
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New York, Nov 26: Even a 10-month-old infant can tell how badly you want something by observing how hard you work to achieve it, says new study that suggests that babies learn to infer motivations of others much earlier than previously thought.

The ability to assess how much someone values a particular goal requires integrating information about both the costs of obtaining a goal and the benefit gained by the person seeking it.

The study published online in the journal Science also suggests that babies acquire very early an intuition about how people make decisions.

“This study is an important step in trying to understand the roots of common-sense understanding of other people’s actions,” said study co-author Josh Tenenbaum, Professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

“It shows quite strikingly that in some sense, the basic math that is at the heart of how economists think about rational choice is very intuitive to babies who don’t know math, don’t speak, and can barely understand a few words,” Tenenbaum said.

Previous research had shown that adults and older children can infer someone’s motivations by observing how much effort that person exerts toward obtaining a goal.

The new study wanted to learn more about how and when this ability develops.

In the experiment, the researchers showed 10-month-old infants animated videos in which an “agent,” a cartoon character shaped like a bouncing ball, tries to reach a certain goal (another cartoon character).

In one of the videos, the agent has to leap over walls of varying height to reach the goal.

First, the babies saw the agent jump over a low wall and then refuse to jump over a medium-height wall.

Next, the agent jumped over the medium-height wall to reach a different goal, but refused to jump over a high wall to reach that goal.

The babies were then shown a scene in which the agent could choose between the two goals, with no obstacles in the way.

An adult or older child would assume the agent would choose the second goal, because the agent had worked harder to reach that goal in the video seen earlier.

The researchers found that 10-month-olds also reached this conclusion.

When the agent was shown choosing the first goal, infants looked at the scene longer, indicating that they were surprised by that outcome.

Length of looking time is commonly used to measure surprise in studies of infants.

“Across our experiments, we found that babies looked longer when the agent chose the thing it had exerted less effort for, showing that they infer the amount of value that agents place on goals from the amount of effort that they take toward these goals,” lead author of the study Shari Liu, a graduate student at Harvard University, said. (IANS)

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Study: Meat Based Diet can Improve Infant Growth

Meat-based diet improves length growth in infants

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Study: Meat Based Diet can Improve Infant Growth.
Study: Meat Based Diet can Improve Infant Growth. Pixabay

Giving formula-fed infants a higher protein diet such as pureed meat can improve their early length growth, new research suggests.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that meat, such as pork, can be an important source of much-needed protein in an infant’s diet during the transition to solid foods.

“Meat, such as pork, provides important micronutrients, is an excellent source of protein and can be an important complementary food for infants who are ready for solid foods,” said lead study author Minghua Tang, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz, in the US.

“Our research suggests introducing higher amounts of protein and introducing meat, such as pork, into the diet at five months could be potentially beneficial for linear growth (length gain),” Tang said.

Also Read: Eat Less Saturated, Trans Fats to Curb Heart Disease: WHO

In the study, a small group of healthy, formula-fed infants ate meat-based complementary foods, such as pureed ham and beef, or dairy-based complementary foods from ages five to 12 months old, increasing their protein intake from two grams of protein per kg each day before the study up to three grams per kg each day during the study period.

While the protein increased, both calories and fat intakes stayed the same between the meat and dairy groups, regardless of protein source.

The researchers found the pureed meats promoted a greater rate of growth — with length of nearly one inch greater compared to the dairy-fed group at 12 months of age, with no increase in risk of being overweight at the completion of the seven-month study. (IANS)