Saturday May 28, 2016
Helpless babies make for smart parents
more stories from this episode
Newborn human infants are among the most helpless offspring in the animal kingdom, and that's probably why humans are so smart. Dr. Celeste Kidd, from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, and director of the Rochester Baby Lab, has discovered a pattern in the animal kingdom that links intelligence in a species to helplessness in infants.
Her model suggests that helpless infants demand intelligent parents, in order to ensure their survival. But in order for a species to produce large-brained, intelligent parents, infants must be born early and relatively undeveloped - or else their heads won't pass through the birth canal.
This evolutionary feedback links intelligence and undeveloped infants, and applies to many species of primates she's compared.