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Babies can estimate probabilities, identify colours, claim scientists

Six Months Seems To Be The Minimum Age At Which Infants Start To Deal With Probability Information. One Previous Study Showed That Babies At Just Four Months Old Were Not Able To Perform This Task And Therefore Seemed To Not Yet Be Sensitive To This Information.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Nabanita Chakorborty | Updated on: 06 Nov 2017, 05:55:50 PM
Six-month-old babies able to estimate probabilities and identify colours, say scientists

New Delhi:

An atypical study led by a group of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Germany has found that even babies are able to calculate the probability of a certain incident and already succeed in determining which colour makes up the majority of the balls and therefore which one is more likely to be drawn.

Talking about their latest findings, Ezgi Kayhan, neuroscientist at MPI CBS has said, "Six months seems to be the minimum age at which infants start to deal with probability information. One previous study showed that babies at just four months old were not able to perform this task and therefore seemed to not yet be sensitive to this information."

"We suppose that from early on in life, our brains represent statistics of the environment. Within the first six months of life, babies are able to extract information about which events follow on from each other, or how likely one event is compared to another," Kayhan was quoted further.

According to scientists, we develop our ability to analyse risks and benefits of any action from the six months of our age. The months-long study was conducted on 75 babies aged six, twelve and 18 months and further showed that all of them are very much able to identify colours and estimate probabilities.

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The neuroscientists arranged a bunch of animated film clips to conduct the study and got some mind-boggling results.

The short movies featured a machine filled with balls, most were blue, some yellow, which in a second sequence ejected lots of the mainly available blue balls into one basket, and into another container mainly yellow balls. 

In this context it was 625 times less likely that the machine chose yellow balls instead of blue. 

Therefore, the basket being filled with mainly yellow balls was a very unlikely event. 

While the babies watched the movies the scientists observed them using the so-called eyetracking method to see which of the two baskets they looked at for longer - the likely or the unlikely option. 

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"We noticed that the infants stared longer at the unlikely option independently from the tested age group to which they belonged - presumably because they were surprised that it was just made up of the rare yellow balls and that it was therefore a very improbable event," Kayhan stated. 

To make sure that the babies were not just more attracted by the colour yellow in some of the trials, the researchers also used green and red balls.

The research also includes a group of scientists from University of Uppsala in Sweden.

(With PTI inputs)

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First Published : 05 Nov 2017, 07:27:04 PM

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