Tuesday July 23, 2019

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.

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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Pre-term Birth Impact Baby’s Love Life in Adulthood, Says New Study

“Young adults born preterm might experience social challenges in their life, which might affect their romantic relationships and family plannings” he added

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A teenager caressing the newborn. Pixabay

Researchers have found that babies who were born pre-term are less likely to form romantic relationships, have sexual relations or experience parenthood than those who were born full term, a new study shoes.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), India is the leading country of preterm births where babies are born before completed 37 weeks of gestation and this number is rising.

Published in the journal JAMA Network Open, the study shows in the analysis of 4.4 million participants those born pre-term were 28 per cent less likely to form romantic relationships and 22 per cent less likely to become parents, when compared to those born full term.

“It is partly due to pre-term birth being associated with being more often withdrawn and shy, socially excluded and less likely to take risks in adolescence,” said researchers from the University of Warwick.

“The finding that adults who were born pre-term are less likely to have a partner, to have sex and become parents does not appear to be explained by a higher rate of disability. Rather preterm-born children have been previously found to have poorer social interactions in childhood that make it harder for them to master social transitions such as finding a partner, which in turn is proven to boost your wellbeing,” said the study lead author Marina Goulart de Mendonca from the University of Warwick.

Venezuela, Healthcare, Pregnant Women
A Venezuelan migrant woman holds a baby outside an immigration processing office on the Rumichaca bridge after crossing the border from Colombia to Rumichaca, Ecuador, June 12, 2019 (Representational image). VOA

More needs to be done in schools and by parents to encourage social interactions at younger ages, so when they transition to adulthood they are more likely to meet someone and increase their wellbeing, said the experts.

According to Amit Garg, Consultant Psychiatrist, Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute in Delhi, the hardships followed by premature babies while growing up are indescribable.

Also Read: Around 53% People Interested in Travelling to Space: Survey

“Getting birth before due time not only affects their physical growth but mental growth also and that is for lifetime in some cases. A study says preterm babies are tending to be unromantic during young age, One should be very careful about nutrition and other related illness also so that good health can be maintained,” Garg told IANS.

“Young adults born preterm might experience social challenges in their life, which might affect their romantic relationships and family plannings” he added. (IANS)