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Babies Know Math

You may have struggled with mathematics classes in high school and college, but according to researchers, math was no problem for you when you were an infant.

US researchers first discovered this in 1992, but their findings have been hotly debated in math circles ever since. Now new research shows that infants as young as six months know when an arithmetic solution is wrong.

Israeli mathematicians Andrea Berger and Gabriel Tzur repeated the tests with 24 infants (14 males and 10 females) between six and nine months of age. The infants were shown one or two dolls in a videotaped puppet theater. Their view was then blocked briefly and the number of dolls was left unchanged OR one was added or removed. As in the earlier research, the infants looked longer when the number of dolls in the second viewing was different from the number there when they first saw them. And his time, the infants wore special brain-monitoring netting, that allowed for much more extensive brain-wave monitoring than was available previously.

The average time for infants who saw the same number of dolls before and after was 6.94 seconds. They held their gaze longer (8.04 seconds) when the number of dolls differed. The time measurement ended when a child looked away from the display.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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