I commented on this article over at YahooNews. Here’s what I had to say:
This is not groundbreaking research. Piaget essentially looked at how kids interact with inanimate objects. His work is what it is, and needed to be done to take us to the next level, which is to look at how kids interact with the world of non-material objects or mental constructs. There’s been tons of research done in this area. Back over ten years ago when I was in a masters level counseling program, we were told about so-called “animated dot” studies. Researchers would move dots around on a screen in front of infants and toddlers and they could track when the child went from a form of inanimate interaction to one of animate interaction. In animate interaction, they would imbue the dots with intentionality. And this happened at a very early age. Then there are the “completed action” studies where an adult fails at an attempt—like putting a ball in a basket—and researchers can track when the infant or toddler completes the task—in an empathetic way—in their own minds as if to help the adult complete the action. In essence, the toddlers are able to build empathetic models at an early age. Can they reflect on these models?—an area of much controversy. There are “false belief” studies, and the list goes on. Much of this has been confirmed with the discovery of mirror neurons about 12 years ago. So, I’m not sure why this research is being billed as “new” or “groundbreaking.” This is really old news within the realms of infant and child development. But I guess “new” or “groundbreaking” grabs attentions. It is always a good thing when early studies can be replicated. However, replication studies are never sexy.