The next time you glance at a baby in a crib, appreciate the fact that you are looking at more than just another cute face. You are peering at what scientists are starting to believe is the greatest learning machine in the universe.
The mind behind those bright blue or brown eyes is faster and far more sophisticated than any computer built, say the authors of the new book, "The Scientist in the Crib."
Written by the University of Washington husband-wife team of developmental scientists Andrew Meltzoff and Patricia Kuhl and University of California, Berkeley, psychologist Alison Gopnik, the book is a thoughtful and sometimes humorous exploration of how babies learn. In addition, the authors propose that the way babies acquire knowledge has an uncanny resemblance to how adults use the scientific method to conduct research.
"The Scientist in the Crib," published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., is not another how-to book. It's a book aimed at parents and other adults who want to know how children's minds work as much as they want to know about feeding them and changing their diapers. The book explains the remarkable transformation that happens in the human brain during the first three years of life and how, often unknowingly, parents and others help the process along.
"We are born to teach" said Kuhl, "We do this naturally and quite unconsciously. It seems as if nature designed us to teach babies in the same way it designed babies to learn."
The authors wrote the book from the dual perspective of being parents
and leading figures in the new field of human developmental science. Meltzoff,
a UW psychology professor, has done pioneering research into how much infants
know and how they learn. Kuhl, a professor of speech and hearing science, is
one of the world's leading authorities on language and speech acquisition.
Gopnik is a UC psychology professor and authority on child learning, psych
Contact: Joel Schwarz
University of Washington