Three-Month Old Infants Can Learn Abstract Relations Before Language Comprehension
[Source: Science Daily]
Three-month-old babies cannot understand words and are just learning to roll over, yet they are already capable of learning abstract relations. In a new study, researchers show for the first time that 3-month-old infants can learn same and different relations.
“Recent theories have suggested that humans’ fluency in relational learning — our ability to make comparisons between objects, events or ideas — may be the key difference in mental ability between us and other animals,” said Dedre Gentner, professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and a senior author of the study. “While some non-human primates can learn abstract relations, they require extensive training — sometimes thousands of trials — to do so.”
Erin Anderson, lead author of the study and a graduate student in psychology at Northwestern, said, “We know that by four years of age, children can detect and use relations like same and different. What we didn’t know was when this ability begins. In this study, we asked whether young infants could form abstract relations.”
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