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Babies May Perform 'Pure Reasoning,' Study Suggests
Date:5/26/2011

based on a few physical principles, Tenenbaum said.

"There has been a lot of interest in the last five to 10 years in the idea that human brains, whether adults or children, can be understood as doing some probabilistic thinking," he said.

The research is part of a larger effort to observe babies at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months, and map out their perceptions of the physical world, Tenenbaum said. Part of what MIT has dubbed the Intelligence Initiative, the "3-6-12" project was launched this year with the goal of deciphering the nature of intelligence and replicating it in machines.

Tenenbaum is in the midst of developing similar computational models of infants' "intuitive psychology," or their understanding of how people act. These models may potentially help scientists understand what changes in the human brain when a child develops autism, which often involves an inability to form appropriate expectations of social behavior.

"This would be a way of getting some traction on what may be going wrong in the first two years of life in these children," he said. "It's very speculative . . . [but] we're laying the foundation for that now."

More information

For more on the development of the young brain, visit the University of Maine.

SOURCES: Josh Tenenbaum, Ph.D., associate professor, cognitive science and computation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass.; May 27, 2011, Science


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