How Scientists and Doctors Use Baby-Friendly Tricks to Study Infants


Xue said most studies only last between 5-10 minutes because the infants will get bored if they're longer. If they want a baby to focus on an object, they darken the room and light up the object to draw the baby's attention.

“In a way, it’s easy to work with infants,” said Xue. “They’re very curious and they’re interested in the world.”

To measure if babies are interested in an object or scene without getting verbal confirmation, Xue and her fellow researchers simply follow the infant’s eye movement. While there are special computer programs, Xue said often it just comes down to a researcher holding a stopwatch and watching the infant through a monitor.

In spite of the infants’ inability to speak, Xue said, understanding their thought process can reveal how they learn, which could eventually help shape education programs.

“When they go to preschool and elementary school ... they will help us to know how to structure the school system,” said Xue of her young subjects. “Understanding these really young humans is important.”

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