Babies Can Identify Their Favourite People Based On Kisses And Sharing Food

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Babies Can Identify Their Favourite People Based On Kisses And Sharing Food
© Provided by Indiatimes

Babies can tell who has close relationships based on who exchanges their saliva with them either while kissing or sharing food.

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Babies Can Identify Their Favourite People Based On Kisses And Sharing Food
© Provided by Indiatimes Unsplash

Also Read: Xenobot Babies: World’s First Living Robots Can Now Reproduce, Thanks To AI

Global Tech News Daily

This is according to a study conducted by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. For the study, researchers observed toddlers — aged between 16.5 to 18.5 months — and babies — aged between 8.5 to 10 months — as they watched a group of humans interact with puppets.

In the initial set of experiments, babies saw the puppet share an orange with an actor then the same puppet tossed a ball and back with another actor. After this, researchers observed the reactions of the babies and toddlers when the puppet showed discomfort sitting between two actors. 

Global Tech News Daily

As per a 2003 study of non-human primates, researchers hypothesise that babies would look first at the individual from whom they expect help as the study had revealed that when baby monkeys cry, other members of the troop look to the baby’s parents, expecting them to step in.

Researchers saw that both babies and toddlers were more likely to look towards the actor who shared food with the puppet instead of the one who was playing with a ball. 

Another experiment was focussing specifically on the saliva. The actor either placed her finger in her mouth and then into the puppet’s mouth or placed it on her forehead and then on the forehead of the puppet.

This time, however, it was the actor who expressed distress while standing between two puppets. Researchers observed the kids watching the video of this activity were more likely to look at the puppet with whom the actor had shared saliva with.

In a third experiment, researchers brought onboard much older kids between the ages of five and seven years. When they observed the interactions between the cartoon individuals the kids predicted the sharing of utensils or licking of the same food item would occur within nuclear families whereas sharing toys and food would occur between friendships and families. 

Babies Can Identify Their Favourite People Based On Kisses And Sharing Food
© Provided by Indiatimes Unsplash

MIT postdoc Ashley Thomas, lead author of the study explains, “The general skill of learning about social relationships is very useful. One reason why this distinction between thick and thin might be important for infants in particular, especially human infants, who depend on adults for longer than many other species, is that it might be a good way to figure out who else can provide the support that they depend on to survive.”

The study was initially conducted before the pandemic. However, they also conducted a series of experiments during the pandemic and saw similar results, despite the hygiene concerns. 

Study author Rebecca Saxe added, “We actually know the results would have been similar if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. You might wonder, did kids start to think very differently about sharing saliva when suddenly everybody was talking about hygiene all the time? So, for that question, it’s very useful that we had an initial data set collected before the pandemic.”

Researchers plan on doing similar studies with infants from different cultures and family structures. They also plan to use fMRI in adult subjects to understand what part of the brain gets activated during the saliva-based assessments during social interactions.

Keep reading Indiatimes.com for science and technology stories. 

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