The Science of Babies

I recently watched a really fascinating National Geographic documenty called “The Science of Babies,”  it explains instincts we are born with (some of which we lose) and how and why we develop so much more slowly than all other mammals (plus the part where they show the size of a human pelvis vs. a newborn’s head is enough to scare me into a few more years without kids).

Then, today, the New York Times published an article about Harvard psychology professor Elizabeth S. Spelke’s work studying babies.

Here are some interesting things I’ve learned recently about human evolution and babies:

1) A baby can recongize their mother’s voice from inside the womb.

2) Newborn babies have the  built in instinct to grasp, turn their heads, throw out their arms and legs if that are startled, and even make walking motions with their legs and feet.

3)  Babies can do simple math problems!

4)Babies can distuingish sublte inflections in other langages and accents that adults can’t–they have to lose that ability in order to learn their primary language (that is being spoken to them more frequently).

5) Babies can tell subtle differences between monkey faces, but as they grow they can’t tell the difference, also when they are newborn a scrambled face looks the same as a normal face. (the part about the babies in the orphanages that don’t see faces is heartbreaking, by the way)

Watch the entire video here


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