Children: They predict what is going to happen


From the University of Padua it is certified that children of only 4 months are able to anticipate an event according to the sound they hear. A voice is capable of activating the neural circuits related to the sight of faces in advance one second before their appearance.

When perceiving sounds and seeing images, our brain does not spend all its time processing physical characteristics and corresponding meanings. Only a small part does this, because the remaining 95% of the brain is busy making predictions about future events in the environment. Then they are compared with reality to refute the truth or not. However, what age allows us to predict future episodes in the environment in relation to personal perceptions? Here the team from the University of Padua tried to give an answer.


This continuous cycle of prediction-verification-updating is known in the literature as the predictive brain and defines the subtle balance that regulates the interface between our inner world and all that is external to us. In this research, brain activity was reconstructed in three classes of subjects, adults, 9-month-old children and 4-month-old babies, starting from their cortical electrical activity (EEG) during the presentation of faces or objects respectively preceded by a human voice or from non-human sounds. The results suggest that even in the group of 4-month-olds there is a neural activation that reflects the ability to anticipate the event depending on the sound heard. In other words,

Giovanni Mento of the Department, professor of Psychology at the University of Padua and first author of the study


This early competence constitutes a fundamental prerequisite in the development of the human being in order to immediately guarantee the possibility of communicating with other similar ones.

Teresa Farroni, professor who supervised the research project

  • Children listen and “foresee” what the future holds (


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