The big baby experiment

Wes Fernandes/Nature At Babylab, scientists monitor electrical activity in an infant’s brain. Baby Ezra is sitting on his mother’s lap and staring at the computer screen with the amazement of someone still new to the world. The five-month-old’s eyes rest on a series of pictures: three dancing women, four black circles, then a face among random objects. Ezra studies the screen with fascination — although now and then, his attention wanders. He lets out a gurgle, and moments later, a short cry. He is chewing a sock. Below the screen, a box is shining infrared light at his cornea, and then capturing and processing the reflected light to work out the direction of his gaze. Behind a curtain, postdoc Jannath Begum Ali checks the data streaming in on her monitor.…

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