Museum of Science, Boston

An Infant Revolution

The research in this section describes the unique techniques used by scientists who study infants’ cognitive abilities, and the ways that you can be a scientist yourself, either in the museum or in your own home! Although Living Laboratory does not currently host infant studies at the Museum, we provide sample research toys and activities that parents and other caregivers can use to explore infant cognition for themselves.

If you are interested in learning more about the awesome power of babies' minds, Alison Gopnik (UC Berkley) has two great books out in paper back and for kindle: The Scientist in the Crib & The Philosophical Baby. Roberta Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek's book Einstein Never Used Flashcards also describes the science for regular people. In 2006, the New Yorker ran an excellent piece titled The Baby Lab: How Elizabeth Spelke Peers into the Infant Mind in which Dr. Spelke - a Living Laboratory collaborator - describes the current state of infant research from her own unique perspective.

Previous Research

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How do children classify animate objects?

Cognitive researcher Dr. David Rakison and his students at Carnegie Mellon University study how children group objects and form categories. This study examined how infants - aged 14, 18, and 22 months - develop the ability to classify, an essential scientific reasoning skill.


What types of visual patterns attract a baby's attention?

Families that visit the Discovery Center can use the toys in the Infant Area to find out what types of patterns attract their babies' attention.

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What can babies see?

Optometrists, or "eye doctors", usually ask adults to read rows of letters in order to determine how well we can see, but how do they test an infant's vision?

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Your Hypothesizing Infant

"Hypothesize" is not a word you typically associate with an infant, but in fact, infants are constantly making predictions about the world around them. The following is a compilation of research that supports this claim and explains how and what infants hypothesize!

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Your Infant's Causal Learning

As infants observe the world around them, they are already classifying, hypothesizing, and using tools to make sense of all the information they receive. With these skills, they form an understanding of physical and mental cause-and-effect relationships. The following is a collection of research that supports this claim and explains how and what infants know about cause-and-effect.