Infants have capability of logical reasoning before they can talk: Study

Representational picture of a woman holds a newborn baby at a hospital in eastern Pakistan's Lahore. Xinhua/Jamil Ahmed/IANS

A new study report published in the journal Science has revealed that babies have the capability of reasoning before they can talk. The new finding contradicts the views of the legendary psychologist Jeane Piaget who believed that humans did not have logical reasoning abilities until the age of seven.

During the study, a team of scientists hailing from several European institutions scanned the eye movement of 48 babies and found out that language is not a pre-requisite for basic reasoning skills. The babies involved in the study were aged between 12 to 19 months, a time period where language learning and speech production has just begun, but no complete mastery is achieved.

"One of the central pieces that separate human reasoning from all other forms is to negate a premise, you see that if it's not A, it's something else. That is quite fancy stuff," Justin Halberda, a psychologist and child development expert at Johns Hopkins University, told Verge.

Researchers used animations of flowers and dinosaurs during the study. After showing the infants both these objects, the study team hid these animations behind a barrier. Later, they showed only one object at a time, either the dinosaur or the flower to the babies. The eye movement of the infants indicated that when they saw only one object, they were thinking about the other one which was missing.

The eye movements of the infants also indicated that they were confused when flower or dinosaur appeared alone after disappearing behind the barrier.

Justin Halberda also said that the new finding will be helpful in analyzing the cognitive ability of an infant during the early days of life. The research is also expected to open a whole new door to know the way in which infants think and reason.

"It's about launching a whole body of work that's going to emerge over the coming decade. It's an invitation," added Halberda.