Baby Minds


[The following shared post is reblogged from a post dated May 1, 2012, published by anthropologist Meredith F. Small at her Web site The Anthropology of Everyday Life.  She shares with us some fascinating insights into what goes on inside babies’ minds.]

A recent profile of Harvard psychologist Elizabeth Spelke in The New York Times underscores what’s going on in baby labs these days.

Close up photograph of a baby's face with eyeglasses.
Not so long ago, developmental psychologists and baby “experts” were telling the public that infants knew nothing, that they were blank slates who had to learn everything, including how to think.

But with the current wave of interest in the evolutionary basis of human nature, studies of babies have started to test what babies know when they arrive on earth.
Photograph of a baby's face looking like Einstein.
Mostly what they know is that other humans are really interesting. They know a human face when they see one, and they would rather peoplewatch than do just about anything else.

Spelke started out asking questions about an infant’s perception of objects and spaces, but these days, she, too, is interested in an infant’s social intelligence.

Photograph of three babies from different races.
The article mentions several of her experiments, but I was most struck by her “discovery” that babies pay more attention to language than looks. They don’t care about a person’s race or gender but they do care if the speaker has a familiar language and dialect.

Language, then, Spelke suggests, is the core feature that makes us who we are.

Photograph of baby playing with telephone.
Years ago, anthropologist John Mitani of the University of Michigan showed that male chimpanzee from different communities have different dialects in their pant-hoots, and that males of a community modulate their voices to sound like each other.

This information suggests that the human fixation with how we speak is part of a collective identity and it has very deep roots.

Photograph of chimpanzee face.


About Marc of Contemplative Pathways

Marc teaches contemplative meditation in the context of contemporary mysticism. His understanding of the mystical life is rooted in close to 40 years of study, practice, unfoldment, realization and experience, in the course of which he has received the gifts of spiritual discernment and transmission. His teaching work meaningfully shifts consciousness in a student through the process and alchemy of mystical transformation.   Marc facilitates the mystical teachings under the style of Contemplative Pathways. He enables others to embark on the spiritual journey by learning and understanding the Truth teaching and by living its principles. He has been conducting classes and meditation meetings in the San Francisco Bay Area for over fifteen years in a classroom, lecture, workshop, online meeting, or group practice setting.   His methodology of instruction is divinely inspired and firmly rooted in pure authentic mysticism. His approach to the mystical life is essentially nondenominational, nonsectarian, culturally interfaith, spiritually transreligious, and definitively unitive and nondualistic. His other contributions to worldwide spiritual awakening and the global contemplative movement include spiritual mentoring and spiritual healing practice.   Within the context of the great shift in consciousness now occurring all over the planet, Marc’s work presently focuses on individual and collective spiritual transformation and healing. He promotes the practice of contemplation or meditation as the vehicle for transcendence and ascension to the higher dimensions of mystical consciousness.   Marc is firmly committed to the vision of a global spiritual awakening and the divine promise of humanity’s mystical illumination.  
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One Response to Baby Minds

  1. Pingback: The Secret You | The Mystical Path

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