writes Gopnik in The Philosophical Baby, a tour through the recent findings of cognitive science about the minds of young children. For one thing, the prefrontal lobe, which has a major part in blocking out stimuli from other parts of the brain and fostering internally driven attention, is undeveloped in young children, and doesn’t fully form in most people until they are in their twenties. Internally driven attention, cognitive research suggests, isn’t a capacity that children fully acquire until at least the age of five. What arouses them is what is in front of their eyes, the first burst of information about cause and effect in the physical world.
That is from an interesting review article in the New York Review of Books.
The Aristotelian view had it that the child wasn’t important for himself, but rather for his potential. Gopnik reverses this view. She finds that the child is a full partner, with a different brain than that of the adult, more capacious, with a greater plasticity, and a more highly attuned ability to drink in new information. The child is the auteur, the adult the producer.
I find the whole article really fascinating. And not just because I became a father last month.