New Parenting Study Reveals Surprise Helps Infants Learn

Surprising babies can give their brains a boost and play a key role in their development.
2:53 | 04/03/15

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Transcript for New Parenting Study Reveals Surprise Helps Infants Learn
We have a new parenting study now with key insights into how infants really learn. It turns out surprising babies can stimulate their brains, play a key role in their development. ABC's senior medical contribute Dr. Jen Ashton has the details. ? Reporter: Babies are cute, fun, playful and most of all curious. Now a new study shows when you surprise them their baby brains go wild giving them the ability to learn even more. Babies have rich sophisticated expectations about the world. Maybe more than people give them credit for. Reporter: Researchers from Johns Hopkins university looked at 110, 11-month-old babies and performed tests using ordinary toys, a car and a ball. Then they created situations that defied gravity and science like this car floating in thin air. Babies look longer at those telling us they had expectations about object behavior. Reporter: Babies it seeps are wired to search for why, just like dulls. These results are important because it shows that infants can use their really sophisticated knowledge about the world, about how objects behave to then harness or guide their future learning. Reporter: These babies may be small but what they lack in size, they make up for with baby brilliance. Young infants, long before they get formal schooling, before they can even talk have surprisingly rich expectations about the world. Reporter: So during the next play time, add a surprise or two and give that baby brain a boost. And Dr. Ashton joins us now. This really works? Absolutely and, you know, any excuse, George, for us to play with a car in the morning so let me go into that. It turns out babies from a very early age, they have this core knowledge or common sense about the way that the world works. So in other words, if you saw this car going off the table you would expect it to fall. They know that. They know it's going to fall. If all of a sudden it dangles in the air but they can't see the string they're more inclined to pick up the car to bounce it on 9 table, to test gravity. So what's happening there? Are they just paying more attention. It's called expectation violation so what we know from studies is that it's not just that they're focusing on these objects longer, there's a change in their facial expression, there might be more blood flow or electrical signaling in the brain and this is all very important in laying the foundation for ways to learn. So what do parents do with this information? Look, there's a lot of different ways that babies learn and there are different ways dulls learn. Some people learn by repetition, positive enforce many. Negative reinforcement, the key thing is the learning process with a baby should be active and it should be fun. When we say surprise we don't mean jump out from behind the sofa and scare them but things should be inquisitive and the more active you make it, the more learning will go on. Surprise can be delightful. This might be true even at our age. I think it just might. Okay, Dr. Ashton, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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