Why is Gabriel Spitzer taking a test designed for a toddler?

June 18, 2010

The Project on Child Development at Northwestern University uses this eye tracker contraption to measure minute movements of a baby's eyes -- or in this case, mine. Those red dots tell you what I'm looking at "¦ and that's my mug there in the lower-right corner. For a baby, those eye wiggles reveal, basically, what he or she feels like looking at. That may not sound like much, but that little toehold on a baby's cognition can, to a resourceful researcher, reveal all kinds of cool stuff about how tiny humans learn, organize information and acquire language. To me, it's just a great example of how creative these scientists are at solving problems. The machine has an infrared light that bounces off the subject's retina, which is then captured by a camera. That's what produces the zippy little red dot, which can be tracked down to the millisecond. Taking this test, it was hard not to feel like I was being tested against a bunch of one-year-olds. They don't give you a score at the end or anything, but I'm pretty sure I crushed it. So ... why exactly am I doing this? Tune in Monday ... or follow @CleverApes on Twitter to find out.

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