Babies also use logic, Polish research shows

Babies also use logic Bartłomiej Zborowski

Logical thinking may not be connected to language proficiency, according to new Polish research which has found that children as young as one can make logical deductions.

The ability to create and test logical hypotheses has traditionally been seen as a matter of advanced cognition and superior  linguistic ability, but new research published in 'Science' magazine has discovered otherwise.

Instead, the team behind the study claim that even one year olds can recognise logical discrepancies, showing more interest in inconsistencies than in things that make sense.

The findings came after an experiment recording children's reactions (eye movement and pupil size) to two different scenarios, threw up interesting results.

In one experiment, the children were presented with two toys -- a dinosaur and a flower -- initially one of them was hidden in a cup, with only a part of it sticking out. When it was removed, it was still the same toy as before. So far so good -- the follow-on was logical and the children showed no surprise.

In the following part of the experiment, however, the toy pulled out was not the same -- for example, the flower had become a dinosaur. This disruption in logic registered a higher level of eye movement and change in pupil size as the children tried to understand the incongruity.

Crucially, the experiment was carried out with 12-month-olds, 18-month-olds and adults, with all of them registering the same responses.

"If we see a different response to a logical situation than to an illogical situation, I think we can safely say that there are different processes at play," says PhD candidate Ryszard Cetnarksi from the Polish Academy of Sciences.

He adds that the study could add more context to the nature versus nurture debate -- i.e. which skills are innate and which are learned, like language.

"The results here would suggest that people are capable of logical thinking thanks to innate ability, and not only because of their linguistic or cultural knowledge," says Cetnarski.

The research was coordinated by the Nicolo Cesana-Arlotti from University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona with the participation of the Institution of Cognitive Biology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.