Babies understand differences early on, Northwestern study finds

Madeline Fox, Assistant Campus Editor

Babies can understand basic relationships before they can talk, according to a new Northwestern study.

The study tested babies’ analogical ability, or the ability to see basic relationships between objects, ideas and events. Researchers found that infants are capable of understanding sameness and difference between two things.

“This suggests that a skill key to human intelligence is present very early in human development, and that language skills are not necessary for learning abstract relations,” lead researcher Alissa Ferry said in a news release.

To conduct the study, researchers showed 7-month-old infants pairs of items that were either the same or different until the amount of time they looked at the pairs declined. They found that the babies looked longer at pairs that were different, even when they were composed of new objects.

“It appears that relational learning is something that humans, even very young humans, are much better at than other primates,” said psychology Prof. Dedre Gentner, a co-author of the study, in the release.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @MadelineFox14