How to tell if your baby will be a maths genius How to tell if your baby will be a maths genius
A six month old child’s spatial awareness can reveal how well it will do at maths later in life, researchers have found. The groundbreaking... How to tell if your baby will be a maths genius

A six month old child’s spatial awareness can reveal how well it will do at maths later in life, researchers have found.

The groundbreaking study is the earliest link between spatial awareness and maths, and could explain why some people embrace maths, while others feel they are bad at it and avoid it.

It shows spatial reasoning measured in infancy predicts how children do at maths at four years of age.

Psychologist Stella Lourenco, whose lab conducted the research, with one of the participants. The Emory study found spatial reasoning measured at six months infancy predicts how children do at maths at four years of age.

Psychologist Stella Lourenco, whose lab conducted the research, with one of the participants. The Emory study found spatial reasoning measured at six months infancy predicts how children do at maths at four years of age.

WHAT THEY TESTED FOR 

Lourenco’s lab tested 63 infants, ages six months to 13 months, for a visual-spatial skill known as mental transformation, or the ability to transform and rotate objects in ‘mental space.’

Mental transformation is considered a hallmark of spatial intelligence.

‘Our results suggest that it’s not just a matter of smarter infants becoming smarter four-year-olds,’ said Emory University psychologist Stella Lourenco, whose lab conducted the research.

‘Instead, we believe that we’ve honed in on something specific about early spatial reasoning and math ability.’

The researchers controlled the longitudinal study for general cognitive abilities of the children, including measures such as vocabulary, working memory, short-term spatial memory and processing speed.

‘We’ve provided the earliest documented evidence for a relationship between spatial reasoning and math ability,’ Lourenco said.

‘We’ve shown that spatial reasoning beginning early in life, as young as six months of age, predicts both the continuity of this ability and mathematical development.’

The findings may help explain why some people embrace math while others feel they are bad at it and avoid it.

HOW THEY TESTED 

To explore whether individual differences in spatial aptitude are present earlier, Lourenco’s lab tested 63 infants, ages six months to 13 months, for a visual-spatial skill known as mental transformation, or the ability to transform and rotate objects in ‘mental space.’


The lab used computer eye-tracking technology to hone in on the visual-spatial skills of babies.

The researchers showed the babies a series of paired video streams. 

Both streams presented a series of two matching shapes, similar to Tetris tile pieces, which changed orientation in each presentation. 

The lab used computer eye-tracking technology to hone in on the visual-spatial skills of babies.

The lab used computer eye-tracking technology to hone in on the visual-spatial skills of babies.

In one of the video streams, the two shapes in every third presentation rotated to become mirror images. 

In the other video stream, the shapes only appeared in non-mirror orientations.

Eye tracking technology recorded which video stream the infants looked at, and for how long.

‘We know that spatial reasoning is a malleable skill that can be improved with training,’ Lourenco says.

‘One possibility is that more focus should be put on spatial reasoning in early math education.’

Previous research has shown that superior spatial aptitude at 13 years of age predicts professional and creative accomplishments in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math more than 30 years later.

To explore whether individual differences in spatial aptitude are present earlier, Lourenco’s lab tested 63 infants, ages six months to 13 months, for a visual-spatial skill known as mental transformation, or the ability to transform and rotate objects in ‘mental space.’

Mental transformation is considered a hallmark of spatial intelligence.

Fifty-three of the children, or 84 percent of the original sample, returned at age four to complete the longitudinal study.

The participants were again tested for mental transformation ability, along with mastery of simple symbolic math concepts.

The results showed that the children who spent more time looking at the mirror stream of images as infants maintained these higher mental transformation abilities at age four, and also performed better on the math problems.

In addition to helping improve regular early math education, the finding could help in the design of interventions for children with math disabilities.


Henry Okafor

No comments so far.

Be first to leave comment below.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *