Developmental psychologist: Five-month-old babies know what’s funny

first_imgShare Before they speak or crawl or walk or achieve many of the other amazing developmental milestones in the first year of life, babies laugh. This simple act makes its debut around the fourth month of life, ushering in a host of social and cognitive opportunities for the infant. Yet despite the universality of this humble response and its remarkable early appearance, infant laughter has not been taken seriously. At least, not until recently. In the past decade, researchers have started to examine what infant laughter can reveal about the youngest minds, whether infants truly understand funniness, and if so, how.Prompted by observations of infant laughter made by none other than Charles Darwin himself, modern psychologists have begun to ask whether infant laughter has a purpose or can reveal something about infants’ understanding of the world. Darwin speculated that laughter, like other universal emotional expressions, serves an important communicative function, which explains why nature preserved and prioritised it. Two key pieces of evidence support Darwin’s hunch. First, according to the psychologist Jaak Panksepp of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, laughter is not uniquely human. Its acoustic, rhythmic, and facial precursors appear in other mammals, particularly in juveniles while they are at play, pointing to the role of evolution in human laughter.Second, the pleasure of laughter is neurologically based. It activates the dopamine (‘reward’) centre of the brain. Laughing – in many ways – has the same effect on social partners as playing. While the pleasure of playing is a way for juveniles to bond with each other, the pleasure of laughing is a way for adults to do so, as across mammalian species, adults rarely ‘play’. Shared laughter is as effective as playing in finding others to be a source of joy and satisfaction. Thus laughter biologically reinforces sociability, ensuring the togetherness needed for survival. Email Pinterest Share on Twittercenter_img Share on Facebook LinkedIn However, laughter is not only key to survival. It also is key to understanding others, including what it reveals about infants. For example, infants can employ fake laughter (and fake crying!) beginning at about six months of age, and do so when being excluded or ignored, or when trying to engage a social partner. These little fake-outs show that infants are capable of simple acts of deception much earlier than scholars previously thought, but which parents knew revealed infants’ cleverness. Similarly, the psychologist Vasu Reddy of the University of Portsmouth has found that, by eight months, infants can use a specific type of humour: teasing. For example, the baby might willingly hand over the car keys she’s been allowed to play with, but whip her hand back quickly, just before allowing her dad to take possession, all the while looking at him with a cheeky grin. Reddy calls this type of teasing ‘provocative non-compliance’. She has found that eight- to 12-month-olds use other types of teasing as well, including provocative disruption, as in toppling over a tower someone else has carefully built.Teasing is the infant’s attempt to playfully provoke another person into interacting. It shows that infants understand something about others’ minds and intentions. In this example, the infant understands that she can make her father think that she will relinquish the car keys. The ability to trick others in this way suggests that infants are maturing toward a Theory of Mind, the understanding that others have minds that are separate from one’s own and that can be fooled. Psychologists have generally thought children don’t reach this milestone until about four and a half years of age. Infants’ ability to humorously tease reveals they are progressing toward a Theory of Mind much earlier than previously thought.Additional evidence for this early Theory of Mind comes from studies showing that infants are quite capable of intentionally making others laugh, also by about the age of eight months. Infants do so by making silly faces and sounds, by performing absurd acts such as exposing hidden body parts or waving their stinky feet in the air, and by initiating games such as peekaboo that have previously invoked laughter. Knowing what another will find funny implies that infants understand something about another person, and use that understanding to their joyful advantage. This attempt to make others laugh is not seen among children and adults with autism, one feature of which is an impaired understanding of others’ social and emotional behaviours. Individuals with autism do laugh, but tend to do so in isolation or in response to stimuli that don’t elicit laughter in people without autism. They might mimic laughter, but not share it. In a sense, their laughter is non-social.Perhaps because infants are so young, we have been reluctant to credit them with understanding ‘funniness’. Their laughs are more often attributed to ‘gas’ (a myth long ago dispelled) or imitation, or having been reinforced for laughing in response to certain events – like Mom singing in an ‘opera voice’. As it turns out, getting the joke doesn’t require advanced cognitive skills. And much of what it does require is within the infant’s grasp.Although infants do imitate smiling, starting in the first few months of life, and prefer to look at smiles compared with negative emotional expressions, and although they might be reinforced for laughing at particular events, these are not sufficient explanations for infant laughter and humour. If they were, then imitation and reinforcement would need to account for most infant laughter, and this is simply not the case in life or in the research lab. In addition, it would suggest that infants are not capable of understanding new humorous events unless someone were available to interpret for them and/or to reinforce their laughter. Instead, research has shown that, within the first six months of life, infants can interpret a new event as funny all by themselves.So how do they do it? Like children and adults, infants appear to rely on two key features to detect funniness. First, humour nearly always requires a social component. Using naturalistic observations, the psychologists Robert Kraut and Robert Johnston at Cornell, and later the neuroscientist Robert Provine at the University of Maryland, discovered that smiling is more strongly associated with the presence of other people, and only erratically associated with feelings of happiness. That is, smiling is more likely to be socially rather than emotionally motivated. Thus, the presence of a social partner is one key component of finding something funny. Recall that the point of laughter is to be shared.But humour has a cognitive element too: that of incongruity. Humorous events are absurd iterations of ordinary experiences that violate our expectations. When a banana is used as a phone, when a large burly man speaks in a Mini Mouse voice, when 20 clowns emerge from a tiny car, we are presented with something bizarre and irrational, and are left to make sense of it. Infants, too, engage in this process.We showed six-month-olds ordinary events (a researcher pretending to drink from a red plastic cup) and absurd iterations of those events (the researcher pretending to wear the red cup as a hat). In one condition, we instructed parents to remain emotionally neutral during the absurd event. Not only did infants find the absurd version of the event funny, they found it funny even when their parents remained neutral. That is, infants did not rely on their parents’ interpretation of the event as ‘funny’ to find it humorous themselves. When repeated with five-month-olds, we got the same results. Even with only a month of laughter experience under their belts, five-monthers independently interpreted the funniness of an event.However, detecting incongruity isn’t the end of the story. Magical events are similarly incongruous, but adults, children and even infants do not laugh at them. Elizabeth Spelke of Harvard and Renée Baillargeon of the University of Illinois have observed that when natural laws are violated – a ball disappears into thin air or an object passes through a solid barrier – infants behave exactly as adults and children do: they don’t laugh, they stare. Why? Humour researchers theorise that although magic and humour both involve incongruity, only humour involves its resolution. In jokes, the resolution comes in the form of a punchline. It’s the ‘Ah-ha!’ moment when one gets the joke. It’s not known if infants are able to resolve incongruity, but that they laugh at humour and stare at magic suggests that they can. Perhaps they can simply distinguish that humorous events are possible and magical events are not, and this is enough to make the former funny. It’s up to researchers to solve this next piece of the puzzle. Until then, infants will have the last laugh.By Gina MireaultThis article was originally published at Aeon and has been republished under Creative Commons.last_img read more

Read More »

Guinea Ebola cluster likely part of known transmission chain

first_imgThe World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday filled in details on Guinea’s new Ebola flare-up in the southern village of Koropara, noting that initial tests suggest the cases are part of a known transmission chain and not a new introduction from the animal population.The report also highlights the challenge responders have, given that more than 100 of the 816 contacts identified so far are considered high risk.In related news, a new study found that US travelers often didn’t take recommended precautions before traveling to Ebola-affected nations at the height of the outbreak.Cluster involves family membersThe number of probable and confirmed deaths in the Guinea flare-up so far is at five. The first three likely Ebola deaths and a mother and 8-year-old daughter are all from the same family, the WHO said. The girl died at a treatment center, the fourth fatality, and her mother is seriously ill.The most recent death involved a high-risk contact, a man who traveled to neighboring Macenta district to see a healer. That case was confirmed after the patient died. The WHO said 50 of the man’s contacts have been identified, and more tracking and further case investigation is under way.In Koropara, contacts include members of 107 households, and movements to and from the area are being restricted during medical monitoring. Teams began offering vaccination to contacts and contacts of contacts yesterday, and responders will conduct a door-to-door search for contacts and suspected cases in neighboring villages.The WHO said local health officials have reactivated an emergency response system and added that several WHO experts and partners are on the ground to help with investigation, surveillance, contact tracing, social mobilization, and other efforts.US travelers often skipped precautionsIn the Ebola study, researchers said US travelers didn’t often take recommended health precautions such as getting malaria prophylaxis and flu vaccination before traveling to Ebola-affected countries during the outbreak.Researchers from New York City and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) based their findings on about 4,200 people who were actively monitored from Mar 16, 2015, through Dec 29, 2015. They published their findings yesterday in a letter to Emerging Infectious Diseases.Of the 4,200 people, 2,032 were US travelers to Ebola-affected countries. The authors found these levels of health precautions reported by US travelers: seeking pre-travel medical advice, 62.3%; receiving flu vaccination, 59.0%; and taking malaria prophylaxis, 41.3%. The latter two precautions are important steps to help rule out non-Ebola disease if fever develops.Most people went to the region to see friends and family. Women were more likely to seek pre-travel advice than men were. US citizens were more likely than those from affected nations to seek medical advice beforehand and to use malaria prophylaxis.Relief workers and those traveling for business were more likely to use recommended malaria prophylaxis, but the researchers noted that their receipt of pre-travel medical advice and flu vaccination was surprisingly low.The team said public health agencies should work more closely with groups sending workers abroad, adding that low uptake of malaria prophylaxis warrants further investigation.See also:Mar 22 WHO statement on Guinea’s Ebola clusterMar 22 Emerg Infect Dis letterlast_img read more

Read More »

New Mexico Department Of Workforce Solutions Issues Payments To Eligible Claimants For Lost Wages Assistance

first_imgNMDWS News:ALBUQUERQUE — The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) began processing payments to unemployed workers under the federal Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program Sept. 3. New Mexico was one of the first states to apply and be approved for the LWA grant when it was announced 4 weeks ago.Funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), LWA provides $300 per week to supplement unemployment benefits to individuals that meet the eligibility requirements of receiving at least $100 in unemployment benefits per week and self-certifying that they are unemployed, or partially unemployed, as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.New Mexico received funding for five weeks covering July 26 through Aug. 29. An eligible claimant could receive up to $1,500 in a separate payment from their weekly benefit amount. NMDWS is currently awaiting additional funding from FEMA for a sixth week of LWA payments.​LWA is one of six programs NMDWS is currently administering. Since March 15, the agency has paid a total of more than $2 billion in assistance to more than 200,000 New Mexicans.last_img read more

Read More »

Going Places – 09 November 2007

first_imgStenham has appointed John Long as institutional business development manager. Long previously worked for Investec Asset Management.Halliwellshas appointed Gisella Alberici as a partner specialising in property finance from Heatons. Cala Financehas appointed Stephen Freer as a commercial manager in the Midlands. He joins the Birmingham office from Barteak Developments in Solihull, where he was commercial manager for three years. Before that, he worked at Thomas Vale and Alfred McAlpine. Heron International has recruited Mark McAlister as leasing director. He joins from CB Richard Ellis’s City office where he was a senior director and will take up the position with effect from 2 January 2008. Peter Bovillhas joined Montagu Evans as an associate in the planning department. He was formerly with GVA Grimley. Bovill specialises in central London projects, in particular complex, mixed-use sites, listed buildings and conservation issues.Telerealhas hired Adrian Choo and Murali Vaidyanathan as senior investment analysts covering the UK and Europe in the strategy and investment team.Les McGlassonhas joined Land Securities as project manager on its £130m retail scheme, the Elements, in Livingston, Scotland. It adjoins the Almondvale Shopping Centre. Rapleyshas made four associate appointments in its national surveying team: in Manchester, Wendy Williams (ww@Rapleys.co.uk) and Paul Mather (pm@rapleys.co.uk) in the planning department and the motor trade team respectively and in Huntingdon, Mark Frostick (maf@rapleys.co.uk) in the motor trade department and Simon Harbour (sjh@rapleys.co.uk) in building surveying. In Bristol, Lawrence Dovey has been promoted to senior associate.Atisrealhas appointed two hotel experts. Ben Brown joins the UK team as a senior surveyor and Bruno Juin joins the Paris team as a senior analyst. Brown joined Atisreal in 2005. Juin was previously at Accor.Morrishas appointed Jeremy Diskin as development director in the commercial team from St Paul’s Developments. Diskin has more than 25 years’ experience in the development, agency and regeneration sectors, in both private practice and corporate roles. Savills Francehas strengthened its Paris office with the appointment of Serdar Bulut as an associate director of its industrial and logistics team. Bulut arrives from Keops, part of Caisse d’Epargne Group, where he was a director of the Saint-Denis agency, managing a team of seven. Guillaume Massethas been chosen by Invista Real Estate Investment Management to head its newly opened office in Paris. Masset joins from Stam Europe, where he spent more than six years as head of structuring and financing.Lambert Smith Hamptonhas promoted three members of its Birmingham team. Head of planning Stephen Hemming and associate Darron Owen move up to director, while surveyor Christopher Kerr becomes an associate.Mina Parmarhas been appointed associate partner in strategic consulting in Drivers Jonas’s Grosvenor Street head office in London. Parmar specialises in central government strategic estates planning, application of Treasury guidance, gateway reviews and options.Orion Capital Managershas appointed Alexander Fischbaum as an investment director. Fischbaum, previously with Barclays Capital and ING, will work with the three founding partners, focusing on German acquisitions. Orion has sponsored three European real estate funds, which have offices in London, Milan, Munich and Paris.Kenny Myleshas been hired as an associate director in Scotland by Jones Lang LaSalle. The chartered surveyor has joined the project and development services team in the Edinburgh office after six years at Lambert Smith Hampton in Glasgow, and Scottish Capital.CNPhas appointed Justin Wheatley as an associate director to strengthen the project management team. Wheatley was previously at Capita Symonds.Culverwellhas appointed Katie Patterson as a graduate surveyor in its Glasgow retail agency. Patterson completed a placement in the Edinburgh office.Hot PropertyKnight Frank has appointed Anne Haggas as head of new homes sales for its northern region. Having been made a partner in 2005, she will now be based in the Leeds office.Haggas will be in charge of five new homes sales offices that make up Knight Franks’ northern region. The offices are in Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Newcastle.Her brief is to assist with investment deals, implement changes and deliver continuous improvement in the north of England.During her career at Knight Frank, Haggas has been responsible for achieving investment sales of more than £150m. Her role will involve her continuing these investment deals, but she will focus on overseeing the day-to-day sales for several schemes across the north of England.Projects include Hungate in York and the Channel in Bradford.Looking for a new job?PropertyWeek4Jobs includes interactive features to help you manage the whole process online: Apply for jobs onlineAccess important careers adviceSign up for email job alertsRead employer profiles. For more than 2,500 jobs in property, go to www.propertyweek4jobs.co.uk Please send all press releases to the people editor at Property Week, Ludgate House, 245 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 9UY, or email: people@propertyweek.comlast_img read more

Read More »

Ross Goobey lecture hears of ‘green shoots’

first_imgWould you like to read more?Register for free to finish this article.Sign up now for the following benefits:Four FREE articles of your choice per monthBreaking news, comment and analysis from industry experts as it happensChoose from our portfolio of email newsletters To access this article REGISTER NOWWould you like print copies, app and digital replica access too? SUBSCRIBE for as little as £5 per week.last_img

Read More »

Roy Eastham, Griffith Jordan Join Hi-Pad Brake Technology’s Leadership Team

first_imgOrganizations interested in learning more about the IntelliTread portfolio may contact Luka Lojk at mailto:Luka.Lojk@Tyrata.com or +1-704-593-8418. “As we expand our efforts into the global market, Marubeni is an important element of our distribution strategy,” said Jesko von Windheim, Tyrata’s CEO. “Marubeni not only gives us a capable and trusted sales and service partner in Japan, but they also offer established channels into many other Asian markets.” YANTAI CITY, China – Hi-Pad Brake Technology’s President Charlie Shao this week announced two new appointments. Industry veterans Roy Eastham and Griffith Jordan have joined Hi-Pad’s leadership team.AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisementEffective Jan. 1, Eastham was named vice president of engineering and Jordan was appointed vice president of sales and marketing. Eastham joins Hi-Pad’s organization after 28 years with Federal-Mogul’s friction business in Europe and the United States, and 15 years with Bendix Friction Materials, where he held leadership positions in engineering at both the North American and global levels. Jordan joins Hi-Pad’s organization after 29 years with Bendix Friction Materials, where he held leadership positions in engineering, product management and sales and marketing for North America.“Hi-Pad is very excited to add two such talented, experienced and knowledgeable resources to our organization,” said Shao. “Supporting our customers is our main objective at Hi-Pad and the addition of Roy and Grif clearly demonstrates our level of commitment.”Hi-Pad, based in China, is a disc brake pad manufacturer and was established in 2005. The company says it is focusing on developing high-performance, consistent and green products with low-noise, low-dust and a competitive price point, and considers itself a “green” manufacturer.,Tyrata Inc. and Marubeni Corp. have announced a collaboration for distribution of Tyrata’s IntelliTreadDrive-Over System (DOS) in Japan. Tyrata’s DOS and corresponding data analytics platform have proven effective in the automation of tire tread depth monitoring and Marubeni will be introducing the new technology to its customer base in Japan.AdvertisementClick Here to Read MoreAdvertisement “We see a demand for low-cost, automated tire monitoring across our customer base and we believe that Tyrata’s products meet the cost and performance requirements in this market. Marubeni is pleased to be a partner for Tyrata in Japan and we look forward to providing customers with this innovative new technology,” said Kazuyoshi Hosoi, general manager, Tires and Rubber Materials Department.Advertisementcenter_img Marubeni will introduce the DOS to Japan and, through demonstration tests with logistics companies, proceed with verification of demand for automatic tire wear measurement, improvement of driver safety, and reduction of tire maintenance costs. Marubeni plans to conclude an exclusive distributor contract with Tyrata after verification. As partners, Marubeni and Tyrata will utilize each other’s knowledge to promote the use of automated wear measurement equipment for tires, thereby contributing to the realization of a safe and smart society. In connection with the collaboration, Marubeni will obtain the right to distribute and service Tyrata’s DOS in Japan, and Tyrata gains the support of a trusted technology partner in the Japanese market. Marubeni will start introducing DOS units in Japan in the fourth quarter of 2020. last_img read more

Read More »

Grays Harbor Deepening One Step Closer

first_imgDeepening of the Grays Harbor Navigation Channel to its fully authorized depth will begin this fall with the signing of the Project Partnership Agreement by Port of Grays Harbor Executive Director Gary Nelson, Senator Patty Murray and Colonel John G. Buck of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.Port of Grays Harbor Commissioners and staff celebrated a pivotal milestone with the signing of the Project Partnership Agreement (PPA) for the Grays Harbor Navigation Improvement Project on Tuesday, May 26, 2015, at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Seattle District Headquarters.U.S. Senator Patty Murray and Colonel John G. Buck, Commander of the Seattle District USACE, joined Port Commissioners Jack Thompson and Stan Pinnick, Executive Director Gary Nelson and ILWU Local 24 President Mike Brown for the ceremonial signing of the PPA which allows the project to begin construction later this fall.Washington State’s only deep-water port directly on the Pacific Coast, the Grays Harbor Navigation Channel was authorized by Congress to a depth of -38 feet MLLW in 1986. Construction of Phase I was completed in 1991, improving the channel to a depth of -36 feet MLLW.Efforts for Phase II, constructing the channel to its fully authorized depth of -38 feet, began in 2007 and have included feasibility reports, biological assessments, impact mitigation studies, environmental assessments and Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement completed in June 2014.In August 2014, USACE Brigadier General John Kem of the Northwestern Division signed the Record of Decision (ROD), officially recommending deepening the channel to -38 feet MLLW and that it was technically feasible, environmentally justified, cost effective and in accordance with environmental statutes and public interest.[mappress mapid=”20572″]last_img read more

Read More »

Companies Ink Nord Stream 2 Deal

first_imgThe companies involved in the Nord Stream 2, which should boost supply of natural gas to the EU market, have signed a Shareholders’ Agreement, setting up a new project company, New European Pipeline AG, to develop the export pipeline project trough the Baltic Sea.According to the document, Gazprom will own a 51 per cent share in the project company. E.ON, Shell, OMV and BASF/Wintershall will each own ten per cent and ENGIE will hold nine per cent.As already announced, Nord Stream 2 project envisages the construction of two offshore pipelines with the aggregate annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters of gas to be constructed from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. The project will build on the positive experience of Nord Stream in implementing safe and reliable infrastructure.The agreement was signed at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok by Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, Kurt Bock, Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE, Klaus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management, E.ON SE, Pierre Chareyre, Executive vice-president of ENGIE, Rainer Seele, Chairman of the Executive Board of OMV and Ben van Beurden, Chief Executive Officer of Royal Dutch Shell.last_img read more

Read More »

Open mike: Read ’em and weep

first_imgGet your free guest access  SIGN UP TODAY Subscribe to Building today and you will benefit from:Unlimited access to all stories including expert analysis and comment from industry leadersOur league tables, cost models and economics dataOur online archive of over 10,000 articlesBuilding magazine digital editionsBuilding magazine print editionsPrinted/digital supplementsSubscribe now for unlimited access.View our subscription options and join our community Subscribe now for unlimited access Stay at the forefront of thought leadership with news and analysis from award-winning journalists. Enjoy company features, CEO interviews, architectural reviews, technical project know-how and the latest innovations.Limited access to building.co.ukBreaking industry news as it happensBreaking, daily and weekly e-newsletters To continue enjoying Building.co.uk, sign up for free guest accessExisting subscriber? LOGINlast_img read more

Read More »

Contracts in writing and SMEs

first_imgGet access to premium content subscribe today SUBSCRIBE to access this story SUBSCRIBE for UNLIMITED access to news and premium contentA subscription will provide access to the latest industry news, expert analysis & comment from industry leaders,  data and research – including our popular annual league tables. You will receive:Print/digital issues delivered to your door/inboxUnlimited access to building.co.uk including our archivePrint/digital supplementsNewsletters – unlimited access to the stories behind the headlinesSubscribe now last_img read more

Read More »