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C. An Increased Awareness About Infant Cognition

Narrator: This is Science Today. For years, there's been a common assumption that infants are not capable of engaging the world beyond their immediate experience. But lately, a number of cognitive scientists have been re-examining this assumption. Dr. Gavin Huntley-Fenner of the University of California, Irvine is one of those scientists.

Huntley: We now have techniques that weren't available years ago to look at what babies know about the world. Things that folks noticed but didn't pay much attention have been used to ask deep questions.

Narrator: Such as the fact babies become bored over time if they hear or see the same thing over and over again.

Huntley-Fenner: Folks have figured out how to use that phenomenon to probe infant's appreciation of the world more deeply. So you can ask, well if they're bored seeing the same thing over time, what counts as the same thing? Can I change the shape, can I change the color and find that babies are no longer bored? How much do you have to change the shape or the color? Can you turn an object into another object and find that they're no longer bored?

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