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5/2/15 Cover


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Newborns seem to relate space, time and numbers

Newborns, such as this one, may be able to relate space, time and numbers of objects before ever learning to speak their native language.

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Babies zero to three days old seem to have the ability to relate space, time and numbers of objects.

The newborns were sensitive to changes in the variables represented by a moving colored bar and spoken phrases if the changes were all made in the same direction. The infants even came to expect the changes, looking longer at new lines on a computer screen when the variables all increased or they all decreased. But the youngsters had more difficulty relating the variables if they changed in opposite directions, researchers report March 17 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The results suggest that the human mind may be predisposed to relate space, time and numbers before acquiring language or having experiences to connect the concepts, the scientists say.

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