Researchers are calling it the “Goldilocks Effect”: Turns out that babies’ brains are wired to focus on “just right” experiences and information to help them learn.
In a fascinating new study from the University of Rochester, 7- and 8-month-olds quickly lost interest in video animations of balls, pacifiers and colorful boxes that were too ho-hum predictable or too complex. But they were riveted by those that held some surprises – like a ball appearing from behind a new set of boxes.
"The study suggests that babies are not only attracted by what is happening, but they are able to predict what happens next based on what they have already observed," said lead researcher Celeste Kidd, a doctoral candidate in brain and cognitive sciences. "They are not passive sponges. They are active information seekers looking for the best information they can find."
Kidd used an eye-tracking device to measure the 72 babies’ attention. The infants sat in a parent’s lap, but the parent wore a visor and listened to music through headphones so that they wouldn’t react to the videos on the screen and influence a baby’s choices.