Infants Are Able to Learn Abstract Rules Visually
Three-month-old babies cannot sit up or roll over, yet they are already capable of learning patterns from simply looking at the world around them, according to a recent study. For the first time, the researchers show that 3- and 4-month-old infants can successfully detect visual patterns and generalize them to new sequences.
Throughout the animal kingdom, being able to detect not only objects and events, but also the relations among them, is key to survival. Among humans, this capacity is exceptionally abstract. When we learn a rule or pattern in one domain, such as an alternating pattern of lights, we readily abstract this pattern and apply it to another domain — for example, an alternating pattern of sounds.
This ability, known as “abstract rule learning,” is a signature of human perception and cognition. What we do not know is how early it develops.
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