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Why Toddlers Don't Do What They're Told

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the mine-mine-mine dept.

Education 412

Hugh Pickens writes "New cognitive research shows that 3-year-olds neither plan for the future nor live completely in the present, but instead call up the past as they need it. 'There is a lot of work in the field of cognitive development that focuses on how kids are basically little versions of adults trying to do the same things adults do, but they're just not as good at it yet. What we show here is they are doing something completely different,' says professor Yuko Munakata at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Munakata's team used a computer game and a setup that measures the diameter of the pupil of the eye to determine mental effort to study the cognitive abilities of 3-and-a-half-year-olds and 8-year-olds. The research concluded that while everything you tell toddlers seems to go in one ear and out the other, the study found that toddlers listen, but then store the information for later use. 'For example, let's say it's cold outside and you tell your 3-year-old to go get his jacket out of his bedroom and get ready to go outside,' says doctoral student Christopher Chatham. 'You might expect the child to plan for the future, think "OK it's cold outside so the jacket will keep me warm." But what we suggest is that this isn't what goes on in a 3-year-old's brain. Rather, they run outside, discover that it is cold, and then retrieve the memory of where their jacket is, and then they go get it.'"

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412 comments

Oh (4, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 5 years ago | (#27376999)

So children learn by DOING, I get it.

Man, I'm glad millions of dollars are going to these kinds of studies.

Re:Oh (4, Funny)

okooolo (1372815) | about 5 years ago | (#27377027)

I agree and have a feeling that if they substituted college students for toddlers they would get pretty similar results for a fraction of the price.

Re:Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377873)

I agree. Freshman year...

Teacher: "You need to do more work than the problems listed in the guide. Vector calculus does not come by itself."

I: Solve half the problems in the guide.

Exam attempt 1: Holy shit, this is hard!

I: Solve the other half of the problems, plus a couple of old exams.

Exam attempt 2: Hey, this isn't too hard. Would sure pass this thing if I had studied things like those problem solving tactics that the teacher was talking about.

I: Fill half a notepad with problem solutions and analysis and old exam solutions.

Exam attempt 3: Whew, passed that shit! Narrowly. Note to self: Don't pursue career in physics or mathematics.

Re:Oh (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377269)

Why is this 0 Troll?

Re:Oh (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377375)

Fucking retards with mod points. It's a common occurrence these days.

Re:Oh (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about 5 years ago | (#27377521)

Learning by experience. If you lack the experience of something then you don't know it's bad or good.

Of course - there are things that are so bad that a punishment is needed instead of gaining the experience, but going out in the cold and realizing that clothes helps aren't one of them.

Re:Oh (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377635)

Yeah, science is all about gut feelings. Why bother researching anything when we already know what the answers will be. We already know God created the universe in 7 days, why the hell are we wasting billions of dollars on astronomy, biology and physics?

Re:Oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377901)

You OBVIOUSLY do not have kids, OR you are super dad.

The explanation: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377001)

Note: summary quotes are edited to prove a point:

Munakata's team used a computer game and a setup that measures the diameter of the pupil of the eye to determine mental effort to study the cognitive abilities of 3-and-a-half-year-olds and 8-year-olds.

A grown woman's pupils and vagina dialate when she sees a big cock. If anything, that just proves that

...while [sensory information] seems to [be ignored], the study found that [humans remember sensory input, and] store the information for later use.

I believe that humans continue to use that same mechanism throughout life, and modern corporate financial management proves my point. In short, humans not only listen to what they want to, they also remember what they want to.

Not planning for the future? (4, Funny)

drolli (522659) | about 5 years ago | (#27377037)

Hmm sounds like me. I also don't do what i am told and i don't plan for the future.

Re:Not planning for the future? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377199)

Hmm sounds like me. I also don't do what i am told and i don't plan for the future.

Not quite. I think living in your mother's basement is a perfect plan for the future.

Re:Not planning for the future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377363)

I think living in your mother's basement is a perfect plan for the future.

I think /. is the only place in the whole wide world where such a statement gets modded interesting and not--as I intended--funny. Truly insightful. ;)

Re:Not planning for the future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377619)

Well, I thought it was neither interesting nor funny. Just lame...

Re:Not planning for the future? (0, Redundant)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | about 5 years ago | (#27377361)

so you invested in Bernie Madoff too? lol. Everyone looks back and thinks "awww, that's right, he's not a real investor." You know the only reason he didn't scam toddlers is cuz they don't have any money lol.

Re:Not planning for the future? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377977)

Also sounds like my ex wife. It's not that she planned to have arguments, but everything I said and did was stored for future use against me.

She also stored details of my bank accounts, income and capital assets which she was surprisingly adept at recalling during mediation.

Wow, I'm glad Science has cought up. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377071)

Us Marketers knew this shit a LONG time ago.

Maybe you should listen to us a little more you tech assholes.

Thank you Einstein (-1, Troll)

Hao Wu (652581) | about 5 years ago | (#27377095)

Maybe if doctors would have more kids instead of studying them in laboratories, then they would "discover" these insights immediately.

It's like young engineers who tediously write out what working mechanics already know. Academics can solve problems on paper. Put them in the real world, and they flunk out of life.

Re:Thank you Einstein (4, Insightful)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 5 years ago | (#27377153)

You're pretty stupid. Science is methodological and precise to avoid relying on "common sense" because common sense often is not actually correct. Also, it's often easy for you to see ahead of time that this seemed obvious, but in fact was not. Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection? Seems obvious to us now (although given the stupidity of your post I wouldn't doubt if you deny it!) but in fact took quite a long time for us to get a good theory of evolution down. Hell, it took a long time to get rid of phlogiston and the ether and "animal spirits." It took us an Einstein to get relativity!

This discovery has very applicable uses, particularly in the general processes of the cognitive processes of toddlers, brain development, and memory storage and retrieval.

Academics, practicing science, are more in the "real world" than you are, because they need rigor and experimentation. It seems anecdote and casual observation is good enough for you.

Re:Thank you Einstein (-1, Troll)

Hao Wu (652581) | about 5 years ago | (#27377201)

This discovery has very applicable uses, particularly in the general processes of the cognitive processes of toddlers, brain development, and memory storage and retrieval.

And people care! When kids need attention, parents can't wait to whip out a research paper written by someone with no kids who has processed cash-desperate volunteers in a "methodological and precise" manner.

You're pretty stupid!

Re:Thank you Einstein (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377257)

When kids need attention, parents can't wait to whip out a research paper written by someone with no kids who has processed cash-desperate volunteers in a "methodological and precise" manner.

When future parents are awaiting their first child, I hope they spend some time to learn how to handle small children. I don't expect them to study and evaluate original research papers, but original research papers sooner or later (usually: later) make it into what we call the "common sense". Therefore, scientific research may indeed help.

Additionally (I didn't go into the researcher's biographies), maybe they got the idea for their project while observing their own kids.

Disclaimer: I am a neuroscientist and I indeed believe that lots of behavioral and, in fact, neurological research is utter rubbish, but this belief doesn't invalidate sound studies.

Re:Thank you Einstein (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 5 years ago | (#27377353)

Disclaimer: I am a neuroscientist and I indeed believe that lots of behavioral and, in fact, neurological research is utter rubbish, but this belief doesn't invalidate sound studies.

Out of curiosity, can you elaborate?

Re:Thank you Einstein (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377563)

Disclaimer: I am a neuroscientist and I indeed believe that lots of behavioral and, in fact, neurological research is utter rubbish, but this belief doesn't invalidate sound studies.

Out of curiosity, can you elaborate?

No. ;)

Concerning behavioral research (my career has nothing particular to do with this, I'm a molecular biologist concerned with early brain development), there are repeatedly studies presented here on /. with crappy conclusions (and good commentaries from the /. crowd).

And I think the current study is indeed insightful, because I always become desperate when confronted with small children that simply don't listen to my arguments. Maybe I can use a different approach when handling kids in the future. (Yes, you guessed it, I'm the child-less sort of /.ter I have already described [slashdot.org] . ;))

Concerning neurological research, I won't elaborate in detail. Not that my boss would ever read /., but I'd rather stay on the safe and AC side. It works like this:

Boss: I have called you, because I want you to perform this experiment outlined here ... Since we know A, and since we believe B, the outcome will be C, everything is straight forward.

You: But ...

Boss: But what? I still don't see you working! Go!

You: Yes, boss.

Some time later:

You: Here are the results of the experiment, boss.

Boss: Ah, great, let me see. Hm. But the outcome is not as expected.

You: Indeed, there's no statistically significant correlation. We repeated it N times and excluded all major pitfalls, the statistics are speaking for themselves.

Boss: You know that you are costing me money? Go, do it again. And the next time I want to have a clear result!

No, while this narrative is somewhat comprehensive and prepared for easy digestion by the reader, this is not made up. Actually, the boss' comments are somewhat more harsh at times.

And our lab is fairly well known in the research area in question, our boss has some good friends in competing labs, and since many results are not reproducible, I believe that many of the competing labs have similar standards of scientific methodology.

What could I do about this? I have found my niche where I think I can work somewhat untainted by the boss; and in some time I will leave. I know the /. crowd will shout and throw stones and evil words on me, but to bring up proven evidence that our lab's research is not as scientific as it seems at first glance, and, furthermore, to make this a public scandal, needs you to be very, very strong and committed. And since we are all small ones, those who'll make it public will lose their jobs and find no other one, afterwards. That's like it is, face it.

No more comments from my side.

Re:Thank you Einstein (4, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27377523)

When future parents are awaiting their first child, I hope they spend some time to learn how to handle small children.

They can study it all they want, memorizing countless tomes of wisdom on parenting, and it still won't adequately prepare them for parenting. Nothing but the actual experience of raising a child yourself will prepare you for it, regardless of how intelligence you might be. This introduces a bit of a problem, as you probably interpret this idea to mean that no parent on this planet knows what they're doing until they learn from mistakes made along the way.

On that, you'd be absolutely right.

Re:Thank you Einstein (4, Interesting)

jamesh (87723) | about 5 years ago | (#27377775)

Very true.

I like the idea of "it takes a village to raise a child", even though it really isn't practical these days. The good part of that idea is that half the village has probably already had kids and learned a few things along the way, and can possibly offer you some advice should you choose to listen. That's the other part of the problem - parents start out with a firm idea of how it's going to be, and won't listen to reason even when it's not working (speaking from experience :)

Also, given the smaller families these days and the lesser contact with close family once you 'leave the nest', the first real exposure a lot of couples have to a new baby is when it pops out of one of them. It's one hell of a steep learning curve.

Re:Thank you Einstein (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27378171)

Learning to parent is pretty much like learning anything else. It's helpful to combine book learning with apprentice-type experience (read: be around babies a lot a pay attention to what works and what does't) then; and then when you are doing it 'for real', stay open intellectually and emotionally and to the unique situation in front of you, draw as best as to can on the book- and apprentice-style learning, and be ready to change your theories, try new things and seek advice as often as possible.

So, I agree that many problems come from a lack of experience or lack of knowledge before parenting one's own children and many more come from a closed-minded approach after (thinking one's kid will be just like kids in the textbook, just like other kids, just like you, just like your ideal kid should be, etc ajd ignoring the actual kid in front of you).

Re:Thank you Einstein (0, Flamebait)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 5 years ago | (#27377383)

I don't know what cognitive deficits you suffer from, but I didn't even talk about parents. I was talking about a general understanding of the human brain and how it develops.

I suppose you're the type that denies global warming is at all occurring because "it shore feels cold here, Jethro!"

Re:Thank you Einstein (0, Offtopic)

ishobo (160209) | about 5 years ago | (#27377419)

From your bio:

I currently enjoy: studying, music, computers, and women. For studying, I am in to biology, biochemistry, and chemistry. I see those fields as one continuum, not seperate areas of study. For music, I like Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, and a little Eminem. For computers, I prefer Macs for my own use, but if I have to help around the lab I can do with other platforms also. With women, I like to date any girls except asian girls. I am through dating them since a slut I was dating lied to me. Asian girls only like you for power and money. They only want to party and have fun while you work hard on weekends and make appointments while they sleep around. Don't talk to me on this board if you are an asian girl. I don't care what you have to say. I need to move on with new women. Blonds find me cute and very attractive, and they like me for my head not my wallet (like you asian girls). I don't know any black girls at the moment.

That sums it up.

Re:Thank you Einstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377487)

[...] Don't talk to me on this board if you are an asian girl. I don't care what you have to say. [...]

That sums it up.

Not to worry. He may not care what Asian girls have to say, but what I have to say is this: He will have difficulties of any girl talking to him on this board, for this is /., after all.

Good heavens! (1)

Petersko (564140) | about 5 years ago | (#27377501)

"I currently enjoy: studying, music, computers, and women. For studying, I am in to biology, biochemistry, and chemistry. I see those fields as one continuum, not seperate areas of study. For music, I like Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, and a little Eminem. For computers, I prefer Macs for my own use, but if I have to help around the lab I can do with other platforms also. With women, I like to date any girls except asian girls. I am through dating them since a slut I was dating lied to me. Asian girls only like you for power and money. They only want to party and have fun while you work hard on weekends and make appointments while they sleep around. Don't talk to me on this board if you are an asian girl. I don't care what you have to say. I need to move on with new women. Blonds find me cute and very attractive, and they like me for my head not my wallet (like you asian girls). I don't know any black girls at the moment."

"That sums it up."

Wow, he really didn't leave you anything to tear down, did he? I can't tell if his bio is serious, or if he really is that boneheaded.

Going back through his recent comments reveals he is, in fact, that boneheaded. Quoth he:

Basing all of your wealth on bananas might sound silly, but there are doubtlessly people who have made millions doing just that. Fruit, gold, and "trust" - they are all exactly the same in economic terms.

I want my airbags tested by an enthusiastic teenager, not some beaten down engineer with years of backbreaking experience. All they need is the desire to succeed, in order to do bridge building or aeronautical design. Surgery too.

Well, for the record, I'd like him to test the airbags that were tested by the enthusiastic teenagers insteda of the beaten-down engineers.

Re:Thank you Einstein (0, Troll)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#27377229)

Hao Wu is stupid? I don't think so. Engineers are scientists, of a sort. I've had engineers hand me blueprints, and in ten minutes I found problems that SHOULD have been obvious to a kid in junior high school. (Try this: dig a trench in soil, which is 48 inches wide at the bottom, and 36 inches wide at the top, and two feet deep, then put men to work in the trench. See how long the top remains 36 inches) There are any number of educated idiots in this world who should have been drowned when they were still pups. Anecdote and casual observation accumulated over time equate to empirical evidence. Any "scientist" who dismisses empirical evidence is no scientist at all. The moment his experiments run contrary to empirical evidence, he had BETTER reexamine everything he has done beginning with the concepts and assumptions behind the experiment. What is stupid is, assuming that another man is stupid because you can't comprehend his statements.

Re:Thank you Einstein (4, Insightful)

warrax_666 (144623) | about 5 years ago | (#27377271)

Engineers are scientists, of a sort.

No, they're not. They "merely" apply science to specific well-known problems.

Anecdote and casual observation accumulated over time equate to empirical evidence.

Absolutely not! If we went by your standard of evidence, we would consider there to be a mountain of evidence that the Sun goes around the Earth. Nowadays it's easy to see that it's the other way round, but if we went by your standard of evidence it's doubtful that our collective scientific knowledge would actually have gotten far enough to discover that.

You're no scientist and have no idea what scientists actually do.

Re:Thank you Einstein (1)

AngelofDeath-02 (550129) | about 5 years ago | (#27377273)

And yet, anecdotal evidence in itself isn't very meaningful either. It's good to affirm what you experience to be true scientifically. It's also good to be open to the possibility that it's wrong, or we might publically crucify the next person who says the world is round, (Because, you know, that never happened) burn "witches" at the stake, or go on living superstitious lives where we are scared shitless because a black cat walked our path.

My point is anecdotal evidence isn't the be all, end all. It's not even sound.

Re:Thank you Einstein (0)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 5 years ago | (#27377399)

What is stupid is, assuming that another man is stupid because you can't comprehend his statements.

The great laughable irony here is that your post is a total non-sequitur. You apparently didn't even understand what Hao Wu was saying; it had nothing to do with incompetent people (which no doubt exist, I would however point to both you and Hao Wu as examples) but whether the research was useless, pointing out the "obvious." Hilariously you didn't comprehend his or my statements. And by your own logic, that is stupid.

Re:Thank you Einstein (5, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | about 5 years ago | (#27377441)

Anecdote and casual observation accumulated over time equate to empirical evidence.

Maybe so, but weak empirical evidence. Even if you're completely accurate in describing what you see, and that assumption is often a stretch, your conditions are likely not controlled enough to isolate anything in particular--and it may conflict with what somebody ELSE sees, which opens a completely different can of worms.

It sounds like in your line of work, simply knowing that the blueprint you got handed won't work in the real world is enough. That's perfectly fine; everybody is concerned with different particulars depending on their own perspective. What you have is a conclusion: "No, you're an idiot. This is faulty." From your perspective that's important. From a scientist (or engineer's), it's a starting point: "Why is this faulty? What can we learn from it? How can we avoid the same mistake later?" Neither of you are wrong, neither of you are wasting your time, but at the same time if you two swapped positions everything would likely go to hell pretty quick.

Anecdote and casual observation are great things to direct us on what we need to study rigorously; they're not a study in themselves.

Any "scientist" who dismisses empirical evidence is no scientist at all.

True, but that's not what this is. Hao Wu basically said (paraphrasing) "parents have known this for ages, if scientists could get any they would have known too!"

Aside from being a bit of a douchebag, his statement isn't particularly rigorous. Parents have known WHAT for ages? That children don't listen? That little kids have particular trouble listening? That's spectacular, and it's a good jumping-off point for exactly the kind of study that was done -- but it's not particularly meaningful in itself. I noticed the sky looks blue, too; that's meaningless as well. Somebody coming along and telling me about white light and wavelengths and giving me the reason WHY it's blue can be important. It chains a statement like "the sky is blue" into any number of potential discussions ranging from anatomy to physics to meteorology.

Knowing that little kids have trouble listening is interesting, and frankly even people without kids have observed that (making the little pot-shot comment about scientists not having kids distasteful,) but what's more interesting is to know WHY--the study seems to be pushing the idea that it's literally a functional difference in their brain. That's cool. Can we do anything about it? That might be useful. Why does it happen and what changes as they age that makes it stop? That might be useful too, in any number of applications and particularly for people who have any sort of learning disorders that we might find have similar physical causes and might respond to similar treatments. Is this just a lack of life experiences, or are we literally altering the way the brain works as we get older?

What your parent poster said was correct: Science is necessary to validate our observations because so many things we have "known" to be true have turned out to be false. I'm not big on name calling, and wouldn't have taken that tact myself, but saying that science wastes its time by studying things we "know" does seem illogical at best.

Re:Thank you Einstein (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 5 years ago | (#27377479)

"You're pretty stupid. Science is methodological and precise to avoid relying on "common sense" because common sense often is not actually correct."

Not that I don't agree, but lets flesh figure out wwhy this cliche statement holds a grain of truth in the first place.

Common sense may not always be correct, but lets be sensible here - not hitting someone is common sense and you don't need science to tell you that. Now someone might say "well ok, common sense is sometimes correct", the problem is not with "common sense" the problem is with the imprecision of language and the context in which the term "common sense" is dropped in conversation in place of specific arguments or observations that are articulated well and to the point which are completely testable and verifiable,

The problem is that the term common sense is always used within a context that is never specifically defined point by point, if it was then I'm sure science would back up a lot of 'common sense' (which is just shorthand often times for valid evidence and observations of other people through their lives experiences)

Re:Thank you Einstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27378099)

uh, except the topic at hand is young kids. Young kids don't have common sense. Adults don't remember being kids... so uh, hence there is no common sense here to start a theory on.

Re:Thank you Einstein (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 5 years ago | (#27378059)

I would tone down the hateful bigotry in your posts...understanding and tolerance are the keys to success in today's world.

Re:Thank you Einstein (1)

cp.tar (871488) | about 5 years ago | (#27377321)

Maybe if doctors would have more kids instead of studying them in laboratories, then they would "discover" these insights immediately.

And maybe they would fall prey to the same misconceptions most parents do.

OTOH, have you at least considered the possibility that their own children provided the inspiration for the research?

Re:Thank you Einstein (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377989)

Slope.

And that's different how? (2, Insightful)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | about 5 years ago | (#27377099)

Seriously, given how many times I've walked outside, discovered it was cold, then remembered where my jacket is, I don't see how that process is any different from the average person. I propose a new theory to explain why a toddler would run outside before getting their jacket, Toddlers don't have weather ESP.

As for the whole in one ear and out the other thing, that's not unique to toddlers by any means. Ask any parent of a teenager, or a kid between toddler and teenager, or the teacher of a lazy college student. Where did the idea of toddlers being the only humans like that come from?

Re:And that's different how? (2, Insightful)

SupremoMan (912191) | about 5 years ago | (#27377115)

Well ideally, if someone told you it was cold outside before you went out, you would get the jacket before you went out.

Re:And that's different how? (3, Funny)

djupedal (584558) | about 5 years ago | (#27377143)

You're right - certainly... and I completely agree.

I believe the speaker just became tripped up when they went for an explanation, however.

What they meant to say was "Uggbga gholps belam gonitoa slhudipp-ti." - Which of course clearly shows that the toddler's train of thought was not only reasonable but well framed and acted upon.

Re:And that's different how? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 5 years ago | (#27377371)

Geez, you almost made me snort mi Rice Krispies! In the Peanuts cartoons, it was always the grown-ups that made the incomprehensible noises.

Re:And that's different how? (5, Insightful)

cortesoft (1150075) | about 5 years ago | (#27377147)

I think this research is meant to show a couple of things of import that you are seeming to gloss over in your criticism.

For one, the difference between a lazy teenager ignoring what their parents told them and a toddler doing the same thing is that a lazy teenager IS choosing to ignore their parents - there is nothing different going on in their brains, they just don't want to do what they are told.

A toddler, on the other hand, literally CAN'T do what they are told in certain instances, because they don't have the same thought process that adults have (which is what this research is trying to show). It's not that they are choosing to ignore their parents, they just don't have the reasoning capability at that age to comprehend complex conditional statements like "When I tell you it is cold outside get a jacket"

I think the point of the research is that many parents expect things from their very young children that are just not possible. They think their kid is being stubborn or misbehaving when it is just developmental. So many parents get frustrated and angry at their child when they should just realize that they just have to wait for the kid to grow up a bit.

Re:And that's different how? (2, Informative)

pbrown280 (1321539) | about 5 years ago | (#27377235)

I'm with the OP on this. As the father of a 5 and a 3 year old, I know from experience that I can't tell the 3 year old to pick up the blocks, but I can point to a block, tell him to pick up *that* block, and then point to the bucket and tell him to put the block in the bucket. Then I can repeat the process x times where x equals the number of blocks on the floor.

So as the OP said, if these eggheads would just have kids, they would know the outcome of their "research" through experience and intuition.

Not that having kids would get the grant money, of course.

Re:And that's different how? (5, Funny)

cortesoft (1150075) | about 5 years ago | (#27377255)

So basically your kid is like a programming language with poor looping support

Re:And that's different how? (1)

MR.Mic (937158) | about 5 years ago | (#27377687)

No, looping support works all too well.

The problem here is that you just can't store objects in lists or arrays.

Re:And that's different how? (4, Interesting)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 5 years ago | (#27377429)

Reminds me of some really great research I read about in relation to morality.

Before the age of I think ~3.5 children are unable to see the world from any other perspective but their own. If you run a test where you do something that the child would know about but someone not present wouldn't, they would be unable to understand the concept that they know something someone else doesn't.

This applies strongly to empathy where a child is incapable of empathising with something else unless they themselves are feeling it.

So when you ask a very small child "How do you think it makes so and so feel when you..." they have absolutely no clue. They incapable of creating a scenario in their head where they're on the receiving ends of their actions. Essentially they're little sociopaths. But it also means a lot of parents waste a lot of time and breath trying to get their children to understand something their brains just simply can't process. You can only give them very specific rules which they can understand. If you hit Tommy then you'll have to sit in time out. As opposed to trying to explain to your child "it makes tommy feel bad when you hit him."

Re:And that's different how? (1)

niteice (793961) | about 5 years ago | (#27377481)

I would like to raise your statement an order of magnitude and suggest it is before the age of 35 that people are incapable of understanding that.

Re:And that's different how? (1)

Yetihehe (971185) | about 5 years ago | (#27377583)

It depends on people, some people will never understand that, some are understanding that when they are 5.

Re:And that's different how? (1)

Baron_Yam (643147) | about 5 years ago | (#27378173)

My kid is just a couple of months past the 3 year mark, and just this week he's started reacting emotionally to what's happening to characters in his favourite movies.

I therefore assume he can now imagine what other people are feeling.

Oh, and I've been telling my wife the kid can't imagine future consequences for quite some time. It's just obvious. What isn't obvious is how to teach him not to play with power outlets, hot stoves, or traffic (sprinting away from the parents in a parking lot). I've tried consistency - getting him to associate parking lots with holding my hand, but results are so-so if he sees something shiny.

Re:And that's different how? (2, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 5 years ago | (#27377503)

"A toddler, on the other hand, literally CAN'T do what they are told in certain instances, because they don't have the same thought process that adults have (which is what this research is trying to show). It's not that they are choosing to ignore their parents, they just don't have the reasoning capability at that age to comprehend complex conditional statements like "When I tell you it is cold outside get a jacket""

I agree completeley with this statement but I also but it also doesn't merely apply to toddlers, adults push their adult expectations on children when it is inappropriate to do so given their developmental level all around, which is the cause of much dysfunction in our society at large, and lots of wounds and rifts within a family.

People really don't understand how clueless they really are in some respects, and I'm glad scientists are finally getting around to exposing the truth of a lot of bad parenting advice.

But I realize that even the best science can't get around the fact that some kids have different nature's, some kids are inherently self destructive and have "problem behaviours" due to their biology or some neurological condition not yet understood (aspergers, and such, comes to mind), which clearly have neurological underpinnings but the data is studies are still being done because a lot of work is still in it's infancy.

Let's also not forget, that people function differently at the neurological level, and when they encounter peolpe that don't function like themselves or seem to be "missing" certain functions, they often don't realize - that the are simply to not process the world or experience it in the same way as what they are used to... and such people are labelled/ostracized/teased/bullied/whatever for that.

Re:And that's different how? (3, Interesting)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | about 5 years ago | (#27377569)

I think the point of the research is that many parents expect things from their very young children that are just not possible. They think their kid is being stubborn or misbehaving when it is just developmental. So many parents get frustrated and angry at their child when they should just realize that they just have to wait for the kid to grow up a bit.

I try to give my kids the chance to get more experience when they don't do as I need them to do. For instance, when we go out (winter time now) I tell my kids to start putting clothes on. My older ones (5) obviously get it, whereas my younger ones 2.5 sometimes do, and sometimes run away laughing.

So I take one of the smaller kids and put their clothes on. Once done I take the other one, start doing the same thing. If they cooperate we're done in 5 mins or so (4 kids), whereas if they don't it can take ages.

So if my younger ones don't cooperate I tell them that daddy will open the door soon and it will get cold unless they let me dress them. Eventually I do, they go "cooooold" and I get to dress them right away. :)

So it seems I'm doing things right. I give them the chance to try and reason in their own way, and finally I give them proper incentive to do as I suggested in the first place by introducing nice motivating sensory stimuli. ;)

Re:And that's different how? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27378217)

Yes, the study shows that toddlers are reactive in thier thinking. I experienced this with my 1 year old recently. We were at my in-laws and their pool cover had rain water on it that was cold. I let him touch it and then wiped his hands on my shirt. Took him away then back. The second time he still touched it but immediately wiped his hands on my shirt. It took 4 tries for his brain to register "the water is cold don't touch it" over "when I have cold water on my hands I wipe it off."

But how is that unique to toddlers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377729)

If I got a penny for every time I've had to tell someone 'I told you we were probably going to get this problem, why didn't you bring your . No, I won't lend you mine, I need it myself.' I'd be a millionaire. You can say that they can plan ahead, but just don't do it, but I really don't find that very believable at this point. Perhaps they can also speak Latin, but just choose not to do it.

Re:And that's different how? (1)

MindlessAutomata (1282944) | about 5 years ago | (#27377161)

In the middle of winter, do you need to walk outside and discover it is cold or do you grab your jacket without a second thought?

Maybe you live in a warmer climate where the weather may fluctuate around the "jacket/no jacket" line in cooler months, but in areas with more distinct seasons you plan your wardrobe ahead of time. -9 Degrees Fahrenheit outside? I guess I need to wear extra layers today. I should probably put on some boots, as the weather man said it would snow.

Re:And that's different how? (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | about 5 years ago | (#27377649)

The question is...

If you tell them its cold outside will they listen and go get their jacket? Obviously they know what cold is and reasonably if you've told them a few times the memory should already be stored so that when you tell them they trigger their other memories to go retrieve jackets and stuff.

Re:And that's different how? (1)

Bob_Who (926234) | about 5 years ago | (#27377803)

Its as if they had little brains, and are like little people. Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

Lacking in Sardonic Tone (5, Insightful)

ChangelingJane (1042436) | about 5 years ago | (#27377129)

Good stuff. I think a lot of parental frustration comes from completely forgetting what it was like to be a kid. The more we learn of measurable differences in functioning between children and adults, the better. Ingrained beliefs can only get you so far.

Re:Lacking in Sardonic Tone (4, Funny)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 5 years ago | (#27377379)

The one thing I remember is that a jersey is something you wear when your mother is feeling cold.

Re:Lacking in Sardonic Tone (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 years ago | (#27377715)

Funny, earlier today I was thinking about times when I was really young when I completely disregarded my parents instructions; willingly and with complete knowledge. I can remember jumping on my bed after being told not to and thinking, "This is too much fun to stop doing."

summary of /. replies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377137)

hurr hurr I already knew this gosh scientists are so dumb why do they waste my hard earned (by reading slashdot) tax dollars

if scientists are so dumb then why are you fucks wasting your lives wiping viruses off of the computers of people who earn more money than you rather than racking up nobel prizes yourself

fucking retards

kids and AI's... (5, Insightful)

hitmark (640295) | about 5 years ago | (#27377149)

it makes one ponder how one approach the development of AI's to.

sounds a bit like they are building up a bayesian database of conditions and actions, going more and more specific over time.

like say how cold at first will just be a generic sense of temperature thats uncomfortable (thanks to it driving the surface temperature of the outer skin below whats healthy for the cells that makes up the skin). then later one add specifics like snow on the ground, ice and other indicators. as more of these shows up, one get a stronger sense that its cold outside, and that again triggers conditioned reflexes like wearing thick clothing.

so, to turn this over to AI research, the approach may well be to start with a blank database and a collection of sensors and outputs. then one pile on a generic bayesian filter, and leave it running.

Re:kids and AI's... (4, Insightful)

greg_barton (5551) | about 5 years ago | (#27377203)

I second the motion. I'm learning more about AI by watching my daughter grow up than any academic experience. She's 19 months old now, and it's been a true education for me to see what is learned behavior and what is innate. [slashdot.org]

Re:kids and AI's... (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 5 years ago | (#27377293)

interesting post there.

tho i wonder if the reach is not so much innate, but related to experiences potentially as afar back as the first weeks or months, when doing, to us, simple things like reaching for body parts.

hell, it would not surprise me if depth perception is a learned thing, based on variations between inputs from the eyes as the various parts get their parameters changed.

hmm, on that note, i suspect a randomizer may be in order, to kickstart early experiences.

anyways, what im trying to say is that as she observed and played around, her mind could have mapped out the relation between objects mostly in view with the right eye, with being able to best reach them with the right arm, by basic trial and error.

our minds are probably recording way more data then we are conscious of, stacking them in a ever growing grid of relations.

and i suspect its a good thing we are not conscious of them, as it probably would have made us unable to reach decisions fast enough when needed.

Re:kids and AI's... (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27377571)

I am a parent of a seven year old boy and I have to come down on the side of innate behaviour. Language learning started from birth and he made sounds to mimic words he had heard from a month or so of age. I noticed that his language tended to come in bursts. He started repeating simple sounds (like "poo" when his nappy was being changed) then abandoned that approach and returned weeks later with a more complex interpretation. His language didn't really get on track until he was 18 months old but did a lot of learning to get to that point. I definitely think the basics of language were there at birth.

When he was about two years old we went to a science museum. There was a school group there at the time with kids sitting on the floor in a circle listening to a teacher. My son seemed to recognise this configuration immediately. He walked over to them, found a gap in the circle and sat down.

Re:kids and AI's... (1)

Wodin (33658) | about 5 years ago | (#27377707)

hell, it would not surprise me if depth perception is a learned thing, based on variations between inputs from the eyes as the various parts get their parameters changed.

Depth perception has been shown to be learnt:
Introduction to Psychology [google.com]

Re:kids and AI's... (1)

jeti (105266) | about 5 years ago | (#27377333)

For adults at least, a neuronal network predicts the behaviour better than a Bayes filter. Neuronal networks show different biases and errors than Bayes filters. The biases and errors observed in psychology experiments conform to the ones of the neuronal network.

Re:kids and AI's... (2, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | about 5 years ago | (#27377403)

I've always thought this is a problem with AI development.

It takes 6 years of constant learning on the part of an incredibly complex intelligence software (us) to become relatively functional.

And yet we drive a computer around a parking lot for 10 minutes and then give up in frustration.

Language skills take decades to develop. Walking and balance take decades to develop. If we really want to be serious about learning systems we need one that can learn for years on end. Clone it. Then start selectively breeding those AIs which perform best.

Re:kids and AI's... (1)

hitmark (640295) | about 5 years ago | (#27377585)

i kinda recall hearing about someone doing that with FPGA's. selective breeding that is.

Re:kids and AI's... (1)

Impeesa (763920) | about 5 years ago | (#27377807)

I suspect there are more professional researchers who agree with you than you might think. There are some reasons why not many people are doing this, however. First and most importantly, it's fairly easy to show that we can't currently build a computer that can match the processing power of a human brain. We may be there in another decade or two, and we may be able to shave some time off of that by cutting corners and designing more efficient systems (but there's a lot of circumstantial evidence suggesting that nature's a lot better at that than we are). At any rate, assume we overcome that eventually. The human brain isn't just a blank slate. I'm too lazy to annotate a /. post with citations, but I know there's research out there that suggests that newborn children already have the ability to do tasks like facial recognition and filtering human voices out of background noise. Those are nontrivial tasks for a modern software system with training, and they do it without. In so many ways, the brain is still a black box with all kinds of pre-programmed abilities, and until that's fully deciphered you probably won't be able to train a blank slate statistical engine to act like one. Even if it did work eventually, it's fairly intuitive that it would develop more slowly than a human child, and who's going to commit to funding 10 years of such an uncertain project?

Re:kids and AI's... (2, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | about 5 years ago | (#27377621)

A kind of tagging system is how we relate most things.

For example, fire might be tagged as awesome, hot, dangerous, orange, red, etc. All of those could be appropriate tags to people. Unfortunately, there's no right or wrong when it comes to tagging, its all about learning. You might learn that its hot when you put your hand on a candle as a toddler. You might learn it being dangerous from all the fire safety things they teach in early school, or even the stuff your parents might teach you. When you learn your colors you'll realize that its orange/red/etc.

This tagging system can get seriously complex.

It also explains a lot of seemingly advanced behaviors like food preference. That hamburger was pretty tasty, so you learn to tag all hamburgers as delicious unless further specified. Like a Carl's Jr. burger is delicious, however, a White Castle burger is not nearly as delicious.

This learning is the hard part. It pretty much has to be individually experienced..of course with AI's this might be a good test of massively parallel systems.

Re:kids and AI's... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27378065)

the development of AI's to.

To do what?

Smoked out & dysgranulated. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377171)

"...the study found that toddlers listen, but then store the information for later use."
Unless, of course, they grow up with incredible hemispheric laterality of the corpus callosum.

Nah...Bill Cosby had it right: "'I don't knoooow.' Brain damage."
Like writing to ROM in slow-motion, over weeks, months and years. Then they become a teenager and destroy its contents with _way_ too much pot.

Neanderthal? (4, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#27377177)

That Neanderthal comparison continuation at the bottom of the article may not be accurate. For one, we don't know if they had language. Their voice box does not appear as developed as ours, but they may have used sign-language, which may be better for hunting than verbal. And they were not necessarily "more emotional". We just don't know.

Re:Neanderthal? (3, Interesting)

cp.tar (871488) | about 5 years ago | (#27377263)

Though their voice box was less developed than ours, it does not mean they did not have language. Their language may have been less refined, sure, but I'd give odds they really did have language of some sort.
Besides, languages can also be whistled, clicked, drummed... the developed voice box surely makes it all the more convenient, but the cognitive abilities required for lanugage use are a tad different matter.

Re:Neanderthal? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#27377577)

Also hand signals. I keep reminding my wife, who is a native cantonese speaker, not to continually point at people.

Re:Neanderthal? (1)

cp.tar (871488) | about 5 years ago | (#27377733)

Yes, but the parent had already mentioned those. And I am assuming a sound-based language because it does not need a line of sight.
While gestures can indeed be useful in a hunt, any kind of group coordination is rather slow and dificult without sound.

Sounds like a good system (4, Insightful)

overzero (1358049) | about 5 years ago | (#27377183)

I really wanted to link to The Onion's "Study Reveals: Babies Are Stupid," but this is a far more critical and analytic approach to problems than most people tend to use. Blindly following rules is a horrible way to learn about anything. The best learners, in my experience, take advice into consideration, then try to see if it's good advice, and discover why or why not. Applied to the example from the summary, the kid who thinks "is it really that cold outside? Yes it is, I'll go get my coat" is going to turn out a lot better than the kid who goes straight for the coat, especially at times when the authority figures are wrong.

Re:Sounds like a good system (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 5 years ago | (#27377735)

I don't follow your logic. The point of the anecdote is that toddlers can't process input from parents as they can environmental input (implying underdeveloped congnitive abilities). If your girlfriend tells you it's 30 degrees out, you'll dress accordingly. You don't run outside in your shorts, figure out that she was right, and go change.

Sounds pretty intelligent (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377207)

So they don't believe what they are told until they verify it themselves? That would make them more intelligent than most adults. Children are being told lies all the time, I can't blame them for being skeptical.

Sounds good to me (1)

iamacat (583406) | about 5 years ago | (#27377219)

I always think my 20 month old daughter will ask for a jacket if she really feels cold. Now to convince her mom or well-meaning friends and relatives :-)

Re:Sounds good to me (1)

troll8901 (1397145) | about 5 years ago | (#27377573)

I always think my 16 year old daughter will ask for advice if she really feels lost. Now to convince myself not to intrude on her boyfriends-with-priviledges :-)

Wanna see my gun and taser collection?

(I'm lying for all of the above.)

Wait a minute... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27377581)

3 year olds work on Wall Street?

memories (0, Offtopic)

jbrad1 (1298221) | about 5 years ago | (#27377613)

Now I understand Congress...no wait. They get outside, start freezing, run inside and burn down the house.

Obvious but often disregarded (3, Insightful)

smoker2 (750216) | about 5 years ago | (#27377815)

This is pretty obvious really. What irritates me is parents who don't get it. If you accept that a 3 year old child will do something before considering the consequences then allowing a kid to run in the street, or trusting it not to touch the red hot stove is really idiotic.

I'm always angered when I see young mothers in the street letting their toddlers get 20 or 30 yards ahead or behind with no thought for the consequences. If that kid decides to run in the road, there is no way to get there in time. I've almost run over a kid like that - ran straight out from behind a parked car. Fortunately for all concerned I had already seen the kid as it disappeared behind the car. The father gave me a filthy look as I slammed the brakes on, and I was really tempted to get out and hammer him. Why should I suffer the (undeserved) guilt of killing a kid if the father was to blame. Apparently I'm supposed to care more about the kid than the parents do.
BTW, it was dark, the parked car was parked illegally, and I was driving about 20mph in a 30 mph limit. The road was 2 lanes and one way. If the kid had continued running after I stopped it would have been caught by the guy on my left passing me at higher speed.

When I was a kid my parents kept me on reins so I was never more than 2 feet and a tug away. Parents these days seem to think that is treating your kids like a dog. Stupid people. You cannot guarantee your kids safety by training when they are too young to consider their actions. No matter how bright they are.
There is no fail safe with toddlers, you have to make sure there is no fail at all (as far as possible). It is not a matter of putting the big knife on a higher shelf, it is a matter of locking the big knife away. Don't hide the gun in a shoebox, lock the gun away. Etc.

This is really old news (5, Interesting)

Flytrap (939609) | about 5 years ago | (#27377841)

I remember when I was younger and my wife and I were first planning to have kids; we went to a parenting course and the guy giving the course (a pastor from some church or something) was explaining why corporal punishment was bad and tantamount to assaulting one's own kids.

He said that toddlers will always be toddlers; they will always do things that they have been warned against, and perhaps been punished for before, over and over again. The reason, he said, was because toddlers only remember the consequences of their actions after the action. "They don't look ahead at the consequences of the action that they might be about to commit, but rather look back after the action and realise what the likely consequence is going to be."

That was about 9 years ago!

From this, I conclude ... (1)

CycleFreak (99646) | about 5 years ago | (#27378197)

... that the largest financial institutions in the U.S. were actually run by 3 year-olds.

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