Baby Mathletes

Goo goo … a-HA!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

When it comes to math skills, are we Born This Way?

Elisabeth Spelke and Fei Xu from the Northeastern University of Boston went to the source: Babies!

They seated sixteen six-month-olds in a comfy chair. All babies faced a puppet stage. Then the curtains opened to reveal each display! Scientists showed them boards with either eight or sixteen dots. They did this multiple times, where the number of dots varied between displays… or not.

As time passed, babies would ONLY stare at the screen if the number of dots doubled. Scientists concluded that six-month-olds could recognize large differences in amounts of objects. They have numerical sense! 

Turns out, we’re all born with a little bit of Einstein! Even before talking in sentences, we can understand and make connections with numbers.

Hold onto your diapers! Baby mathlete in the making!


Xu, F., & Spelke, E. S. (2000). Large number discrimination in 6-month-old infants. Cognition, 74(1).