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Surprised learning technique makes Kenyan babies smarter

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graduation-babyKenyan babies could improve their IQ levels thanks to a research that discoivered that the element of surprise makes them learn best.

The research conducted by Johns Hopkins University in the US, found that children have inborn knowledge."Babies find the world complex filled with ever changing activities. How do they know what to focus on and learn more about, and what to ignore?” Lisa Feigenson, one of the lead researchers and a professor of psychological and brain sciences said.

“Our research suggests that infants use what they already know about the world to form predictions. When these predictions are shown to be wrong, infants use this as a special opportunity for learning. When babies are surprised, they learn much better, as though they are taking the occasion to try to figure something out about their world."

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In one of the experiments that they conducted with 11 month old babies, the researchers showed the babies both surprising and predictable situations regarding an object. The predictable situation saw a ball roll down a ramp and appear to be stopped by a wall in its path. The surprising situation saw the ball roll down the ramp and appear to pass right through the wall, giving them new information.

The result was that the babies chose to explore the ball that had defied their expectations, the one that went through the wall. When the babies saw the surprising event, they tested the ball's solidity by banging it on the table but they got a surprising effect in which the ball appeared to hover in midair. This led to them testing the ball's gravity by dropping it onto the floor. These results suggest that babies were testing specific hypotheses about the objects' surprising behavior.

When something surprises a baby, like an object not behaving the way they expect it to, they not only focuses on that object but ultimately learn more about it than from a similar yet predictable object.

"The babies’ behaviors are not merely reflexive responses to the surprising outcomes but instead reflect deeper attempts to learn about aspects of the world that they do not recognize," said Aimee E. Stahl, the paper's lead author and a doctoral student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.

"This shows that infants are not only born knowledgeable about fundamental aspects of the world, but from early in their lives, they harness this knowledge to empower new learning."

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