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List three once-prevalent beliefs about infant abilities that have been overturned since the mid-20th century.
- Doctors in the 1930s believed that babies had such a diminished consciousness that they had no sense of pain, so did not need anesthetic if undergoing surgery.
- In the early 1980s, babies were thought to be blind at birth
2. Briefly explain three problems Spelke and her team face when doing studies of infant cognition.
- The youngest babies have a wondering gaze so the team have to try and complete each experiment within 10 minutes
- Infants often lurch backwards to look up at their parents or pull off a sock/fiddle with a button
- Infants fall asleep
3. Describe how direction of gaze and frequency of sucking are used as measures in Spelke et al's experiments.
- Babies get bored when they look at the same thing over and over again but gaze more intently when they see something that confounds their expectations or that doesn’t make sense.
- ‘Smart’ dummies are used for the youngest infants whose gazes wander endlessly, these are wired to a computer and help Spelke measure their levels of excitement. A lot of sucking means a lot of interest.
4. State four areas of cognition that Spelke et al have investigated.
- Object and facial recognition
- Motion
- Spatial navigation
- Numerosity (rough grasp of numerical relationships)
5. Explain the conclusions Spelke et al have drawn about early infant abilities.
- We are natural-born mathematicians, e.g. 6 month olds can distinguish quantities 8 from 16 and 16 from 32. Babies will infer that a rolling ball will keep moving and that when the ball rolls behind a screen it should pop out on the other side.
- They believe that infants have ‘core systems for understanding the world’, which are not shaped by learning
- Found that infants prefer to gaze at members of their own ethnic group and by the age...

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