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Science

BABIES ARE ABLE TO REASON BEFORE SPEAKING

Babies are able to make rational deductions long before they learn to speak, according to a study that challenges one of the most defended theories up to now and that argues that the ability to reason is subject to language.

The work, led by Ana Martín, Nicoló Cesana Arlotti and Luca L.Bonatti from the Cognition and Brain Center (Pompeu Fabra University and ICREA), and done in collaboration with scientists from the Cognitive Development Center of Budapest (Hungary) and the Institute Nencki from the Academy of Sciences (Poland), is published in the journal Science.

Previous studies had determined that babies under two years of age (called preverbs) have sophisticated cognitive abilities. For example, they are capable of generating and confirming hypotheses, an essential tool that helps them understand and predict the phenomena that surround them.

A study by Laura Schulz also published in Science in 2011, determined that, in the face of a toy that does not work, babies of 16 months are able to generate hypotheses and consider whether the fault is their fault or the toy.

Other studies found that at 11 months, a baby is not only able to be surprised if an object violates physical laws, but also try to find an explanation and make checks to find out why: intuit that something does not work.

It is also known that babies have notions of ‘probability’ of things, and are surprised if something ‘unlikely’ or unexpected happens to them.

But, despite all these data, “we still do not know how they learn, with what capacities they are gifted, or how they combine information to formulate hypotheses, we still do not know how their mind works,” study co-author Ana Martín told Efe .

In this context, the study aimed to find out at what stage of development the mechanisms that allow reasoning are set in motion and determine what their relationship with language is.

The experiment was done with babies of 12 and 18 months and with adults, who were shown simple animations with two objects.

In some cases, the scenes invited to make a deduction to know the identity of a hidden object, in other occasions, the deduction was not necessary because the actions occurred in view of the participants.

While the participants watched the scenes, the researchers did an eyetracker which measured the position of the eyes every 16 milliseconds.

The researchers recorded the response time of each participant and determined in real time the moment in which the baby / adult made the deduction, at which time the pupil of the participants dilated, “an effect that is related to cognitive effort” explains Martín.

The work found that the experiment required babies to make rational deductions, being the first time that this physiological aspect is linked to reasoning“, stresses the researcher.

But in addition, the researchers saw that the pupil dilation and the way to explore the images through the look was very similar between the two groups of children and adults, although the latter already have a very developed language and acquired experience, which means that, despite having such different ages, babies and adults use common strategies to reason about the same contents.

For the authors, the study is proof that with less than two years, babies are able to combine information to apply rules of logic and reason despite not mastering the language or its nuances, which contradicts one of the most defended thesis in the last 30 years that argues that logical reasoning is subject to language. (March 16, 2018, EFE/Practica Español)

News related in video (March 4, 2015):


Comprehension

Lee la noticia y responde las preguntas. (Read and answer the questions)

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Question 1
La noticia trata…
A
de un estudio que refuerza una teoría cognoscitiva.
B
de un estudio que contradice una teoría sobre el lenguaje y el razonamiento.
C
de un estudio que no refuta una teoría sobre la relación entre el lenguaje y el razonamiento.
Question 2
En la noticia se dice que este estudio…
A
demuestra que la capacidad de razonar no está subordinada al lenguaje.
B
refuta que la capacidad de razonar esté subordinada al lenguaje.
C
confirma que la capacidad de razonar esté subordinada al lenguaje.
Question 3
Según el texto, para la elaboración de este último estudio…
A
solo han participado bebés que aún no hablan.
B
participaron tanto bebés que aún no hablaban como adultos.
C
no fue necesario que participaran adultos.
Question 4
En estudios anteriores…
A
no se llegó a comprobar si los bebés se preguntaban por qué algo no funciona.
B
se comprobó que los bebés se preguntaban por el porqué de que algo no funcione.
C
se verificó que es imposible que un bebé sea capaz de realizar hipótesis.
Question 5
Según Ana Martín…
A
todavía no se sabe muy bien cómo aprenden y cómo funciona la mente de los bebés.
B
ya han descubierto cómo aprenden los bebés.
C
este reciente estudio ha dado todas las respuestas sobre cómo funciona la mente de un bebé.
Question 6
En este último estudio, los investigadores…
A
refutaron que hubiera algún tipo de relación entre la dilatación de las pupilas y el razonamiento.
B
relacionaron la dilatación de la pupilas con un esfuerzo cognitivo.
C
demostraron que el lenguaje está subordina al razonamiento lógico.
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Listening

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En el vídeo se habla…
A
de una escuela de música solo para adultos.
B
de una escuela de música destinada solo para bebés.
C
de una escuela de música en la que participan bebés.
Question 2
Según el vídeo, en esa escuela los bebés…
A
a partir de los 10 meses ya pueden distinguir el sonido de los instrumentos.
B
no aprenden a distinguir el sonido de los instrumentos.
C
todavía no son capaces de diferencias los sonidos de los instrumentos.
Question 3
Los padres acompañan a sus hijos en estas clases.
A
Así es.
B
En absoluto.
C
¡Quien sabe!
Question 4
Según el vídeo, esas clases son poco dinámicas.
A
Para nada.
B
Claro que sí.
C
¡Imposible saberlo!
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