Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Learning to Count Begins in Infancy

By AusSMC

A team led by a researcher from the University of Queensland assessed how 18 month-old babies responded to videos of counting, and claim they demonstrate that humans begin to learn to count earlier than previously thought.

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“I think the study is an interesting one but the title is a bit disconcerting. ‘Learning to count begins in infancy’ resonates with numerous studies tacitly suggesting to non-scientists and non-researchers (everyday parents if you like) that somehow we might tap into this new finding to advance or improve a child’s capacities and long-term educational success.

“The study does not concern or excite me per se, but the implications or how it might be interpreted do. I am not overly convinced that the cohort of children were actually counting as we might conceptualise the word, but may have been responding to stimuli in a particular pattern (i.e. voice intonation, hand movements, etc.).

“What would be interesting would be to use the technology that is currently available to watch their brains in action and see if they were engaging regions of the brain associated with different aspects of numerosity, maths etc. Similar research has been done within different contexts... and it would be noteworthy to see what happens in 18-month-old brains when doing the study presented.

“I suppose my overall concern is that we have a great deal of research available but too often in its journey from research journals to popular press it gets oversimplified, and I think the title of this study could be misconstrued and used to further inflate academic credentialling at an...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.