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B. Rethinking How Babies Perceive The World

Narrator: This is Science Today. Babies used to be regarded as passive entities needing force-fed knowledge until learning to speak. But Gavin Huntley-Fenner, an assistant professor of cognitive sciences at the University of California, Irvine, says research has shown that's not the case.

Huntley-Fenner: In fact, babies aren't the passive receptacles. They're not even sponges. Really they're sort of actively trying to make discoveries about the world and they're constantly experimenting with physical events, with their own bodies, with their parents. They're constantly trying things out.

Narrator: Studies suggest babies who can't talk are just as active in trying to figure out the world as children just beginning to speak, so Huntley-Fenner says it's important to stimulate babies early in development.

Huntley-Fenner: However, there is some research suggesting that too much stimulation is bad, so if you overstimulate babies, you may be worse off than stimulating them just enough. The important thing is to make the child's environment as rich as possible and to provide them with opportunities to learn as long as they're interested and motivated.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.