Day 127: What do babies think?

Ask a three year old what they think and you’ll receive a monologue consisting of stream of conscious thoughts on ponies and dolls. Babies’ thought processes are even harder to study. the answer lies with broccoli.
A researcher set down a plate of broccoli and a plate of crackers in front of a series of eighteen month olds and proceeded to sample them in front of each baby. Half the time, she pretended to hate the broccoli, the other half, she pretended to hate the crackers. Then she held her hand out for some; the babies gave her the food she had liked. When this was studied in fifteen month olds, most gave her the crackers, presumably under the assumption that everyone preferred these.
When studying animals, there is a correlation between childhood length and the size of their brain. The New Caledonian crow babies depend on their mothers for up to two years, while chickens are mature within a couple of months. This makes chickens suited to doing one thing well, while the crows are better at adapting to many different environments. The disadvantage of this learning strategy is that helplessness is prolonged.
Luckily babies brains are the most adaptable computer in the world. To examine whether babies use a complex system of statistical analysis to learn from their surroundings, researchers used a machine where four year olds had to make a box light up using the most unlikely hypothesis.
When children do experiments we call it, ‘getting into everything.’
Babies and young children seem to have more of a lantern of consciousness rather than a spotlight. This makes them bad at focussing on one thing. If we want to get a taste of this as adults, we need to try something new. Three days in Paris seem to increase our consciousness. Coffee mimics these neural responses. So if you want to know what it’s like to be a baby, imagine being in love with somebody new, in Paris, after drinking three double espressos.


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