Hugh Pickens writes "New cognitive research shows that 3-year-olds neither plan for the future nor live completely in the present, but instead call up the past as they need it. 'There is a lot of work in the field of cognitive development that focuses on how kids are basically little versions of adults trying to do the same things adults do, but they're just not as good at it yet. What we show here is they are doing something completely different,' says professor Yuko Munakata at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Munakata's team used a computer game and a setup that measures the diameter of the pupil of the eye to determine mental effort to study the cognitive abilities of 3-and-a-half-year-olds and 8-year-olds. The research concluded that while everything you tell toddlers seems to go in one ear and out the other, the study found that toddlers listen, but then store the information for later use. 'For example, let's say it's cold outside and you tell your 3-year-old to go get his jacket out of his bedroom and get ready to go outside,' says doctoral student Christopher Chatham. 'You might expect the child to plan for the future, think "OK it's cold outside so the jacket will keep me warm." But what we suggest is that this isn't what goes on in a 3-year-old's brain. Rather, they run outside, discover that it is cold, and then retrieve the memory of where their jacket is, and then they go get it.'"
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