According to new research in Science, babies as young as 12-months old have sophisticated "common sense" abilities, and are able to make predictions about a complex scenario.
Many animals can predict what's going to happen if they've seen a similar event occur before. But humans use what's called "pure reason," which means they can guess at the future even when they're seeing something for the first time. If this new research is to be believed, this ability is present at as young as a year old.
How do you test if babies are able to use "pure reasoning" and "common sense" to understand the world around them? The scientists created an animation of three yellow and one blue shape bouncing around in a small space with a hole at the bottom. The space was then covered for varying amounts of time, and one of the pieces fell out the bottom. If the animation was only obscured briefly, the babies were only surprised if a shape that was a long way from the exit popped out. If it was covered for a longer time — 2 seconds — they were intrigued if the rare piece exited. Researchers believe this means that the babies were keeping track of what type of objects there were, where they were in the space, and how fast they were moving.
The infants are able to track complex motion, time delays, and surprisingly complex logic. Even when they encounter a situation they've never seen, they can predict the most and least likely outcome, and react accordingly.