10 Superpowers Of Babies You Probably Didn't Know!


Many of us justifiably think that if there's anything super about babies it's their ability to produce a seemingly infinite amount of poop. After all, we are talking about human infants who can’t even support the weight of their own heads. Crawling and walking take months to master. Compare this with the sprightly newborns of other mammals, such as kittens and foals, up and about within an hour of their birth. There are several theories as to why human development is so protracted – among them that this extra time is required for the human brain to develop. This post side-steps such debates and focuses on 10 studies hinting at the surprising abilities of babies aged up to one year. The research digested below suggests the infant mind is far more sophisticated than you might imagine.

Source: http://digest.bps.org.uk/2014/08/10-surp...

10. Tiny Telepathy

When deprived of one sense or a skill, a person usually compensates for it in some other way. That's why blind people have amazing hearing and out-of-shape comedy writers are incredible in bed. In the same way, babies who have yet to fully acquire language learn pretty fast how to read the nonverbal emotional states of the adults around them. In fact, they are so creepily skilled at reading your face and body language that experts compare it to "mind reading."

9. Babies can meet a person once and remember them for years.

We begin with a study in which 3-year-olds watched two videos shown side by side, each featuring a different researcher, one of whom they’d met once, two years earlier. The children spent longer looking at the video showing the researcher they hadn’t met. This is consistent with young children’s usual tendency to look longer at things that are unfamiliar, and it suggests they remembered the researcher they’d met once, when they were just one year old. Of course the phenomenon of infantile amnesia means these early long-term memories will likely be lost in subsequent years.

8. Babies can hear speech sounds that you can’t.

As babies develop, they become attuned to the speech sounds relevant to their native language. Before this happens, they can detect all phonetic contrasts in human speech, including those that adults in their culture cannot. Take the example of the /r/ and /l/ sounds in English, which Japanese adults struggle to distinguish. Prior to 6-months, Japanese babies can distinguish these sounds as reliably as a baby raised in an English home.

7. Babies can fake cry.

Last year a Japanese researcher captured on video an instance of apparent feigned distress by an 11-month-old. Hiroko Nakayama filmed two babies in their homes for 60 minutes twice a month, for six months. One baby only ever cried after displaying negative emotion. However, on one occasion, the other baby (“Infant R”) was caught on camera laughing and smiling, then crying suddenly and briefly, then displaying positive emotion again. “Infant R appeared to cry deliberately to get her mother’s attention,” said Nakayama, [then] she smiled immediately after her mother came closer.”

6. Babies can tell the difference between a dirge and a happy tune.

For this study, researchers played music to babies through speakers located on either side of their faces. They waited until the babies got bored and started looking away, then they changed the mood of the music – either from sad to happy, or vice versa. This mood switch made no difference to three-month-olds, but for the nine-month-olds, it was enough to rekindle their interest and they started looking again in the direction of the speaker.

5. Babies have artistic tastes.

After nine-month-old babies had grown bored of looking at Monet paintings, their interest was piqued by the sight of a Picasso. However, the reverse wasn’t true: after time spent looking at Picasso, the babies preferred to look at more Picasso than at a new Monet. The researchers aren’t sure why Picasso holds such appeal, but it may have to do with the greater luminescence of his paintings.

4. They can’t shiver; that’s why they have Brown Fat.

Around five percent (or six ounces) of all infants' body mass is Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT), or brown fat. Unlike the hideous "white fat" around your belly, chest, arms, neck and feet (seriously, eat some vegetables), brown fat is specifically designed to take in calories and burn them for heat. It does so by cranking the babies' metabolism all the way up to 11, effectively turning them into adorable furnaces for surplus calories.

In an adult body, three ounces of brown fat would be enough to burn 400 to 500 calories of white fat a DAY, or around 10 pounds a year, just from sitting on your increasingly sexier behind. Unfortunately, people lose most of their brown fat before they hit adulthood, while babies just sit there, stupidly sitting on top of an amazing experience they don't even deserve because they can't appreciate it.

3. Babies can show contempt.

A study from 1980 involved adults looking at videotapes of babies (aged up to 9-months) as they pulled various facial expressions in response to real life events, including playful interactions and painful injections. The adults were able to reliably discern eight distinct emotions on the babies’ faces, including: “interest, joy, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, and fear.”

2. Babies rehearse words long before they can speak

For a study published this year, researchers scanned 7- and 11-month-old babies’ brains as the infants listened to speech sounds. The psychologists observed activity in motor-related parts of the babies’ brains, suggesting that the babies were already rehearsing how to produce the sounds themselves, even though most of them wouldn’t be able to speak for some months.

1. Babies understand basic physics.

This one is probably the most interesting superpower babies have.
Human infants appear to arrive with prior expectations about how the world works. For example, a 2009 study found that 5-month-olds use basic cues to detect whether a material is solid or liquid, and having done so, they form expectations for how these substances will behave, such as whether they will pour or tumble, or whether they will be penetrated by a straw. “… these experiments begin to clarify the beginnings of naive physics,” the researchers said.

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