Six-month-old babies’ maths skills forecast their potential
Zee Media Bureau
Washington: A new research by US scientists has found that baby as old as six months of age has started developing maths skills.
The study published this week in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was done by Elizabeth Brannon, a neuroscientist at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and her colleagues.
In a 2010 experiment, Brannon and colleagues had shown that six-month-old babies did have a number sense in varying levels. In the study, six-month-old babies were given two screens-
one shows a constant number of dots that change in appearance and the other shows changes in the number of dots as well as change in appearance.
Researchers found that infant who has a good primitive number sense will spend more time gazing at the screen with changing number of dots.
In the latest experiment, Brannon and colleagues took a group of 48 babies who had been tested at six months of age and again tested them three years later for maths skills using the same dot test and some standard maths like - ability to count, classifying the larger number in a pair and some basic calculations.
Interestingly, the team found that infants who had gazed more at the screen that shows changes in number of dots when they were six-month-old scored consistently higher in the tests at three-and-a-half-years age.
The team found a correlation between the infants’ scores for early approximate number systems and later mathematical abilities that is “totally mind blowing”, Justin Halberda, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, who was not involved in the study was quoted by Nature as saying.
The findings do not prove that numerical acuity is entirely innate, Brannon notes. Even in the first six months of an infant’s life, “there’s plenty of opportunity for environmental influence” on mathematical abilities, she says as quoted by Nature.
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