Math Ability Starts in Infancy, Study Suggests
A baby's sense of numbers at the age of 6 months predicts how good that child will be at math at the age of 3, new research finds.
In the study, in which researchers looked at infants' "primitive number sense," or how well they can differentiate between groups of different numbers of items, suggests this skill is a building block for future math learning.
"It may explain some of the differences in how easy children find it to learn," said study researcher Elizabeth Brannon, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University in North Carolina.
As easy as 1 ... 2 ... 3 ...
From as early as the first two days of life, newborns have an approximate sense of numbers, researchers have found. If shown a grid of eight dots repeatedly, for example, babies will look longer than when they're suddenly shown a grid of 16 dots, even if the grid is otherwise identical. Because babies can't talk, infant cognition researchers rely on the fact that infants look at new, unfamiliar objects longer than old ones to determine what babies can perceive. If they looked the same amount of time at a 16-dot grid as a series of eight-dot grids, it would suggest the infants couldn't tell the difference between the two. (Incredible! 9 Brainy Baby Abilities)