Child Care Made Humans Smart, Study Says

August 3, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. infant /ˈɪn fənt/ (n.) – a baby
Example: Parents always have to make sure that their infants are healthy.

2. child-rearing / ˈtʃaɪld rɪərˌrɪŋ / (n.) – the process of bringing up a child or children
Example: The new mother is attending a class on child-rearing.

3. offspring / ˈɔfˌsprɪŋ / (n.) – a child or children of a parent
Example: DNA is genetic information that is passed down from parent to offspring.

4. critic /ˈkrɪt ɪk/ (n.) – a person who is against something (e.g. issue, statement)
Example: A critic of the study wrote an essay that tried to debunk the findings.  

5. anthropologist / æn θrəˈpɒl ə dʒɪst/ (n.) – a person who studies the development of the human species
Example: The anthropologists worked together to develop a new theory.


Read the text below.
A new study suggests that taking care of infants may have helped humans become smarter.

Steven Piantadosi and Celeste Kidd, assistant professors from the University of Rochester, developed a theory that linked child-rearing duration to human intelligence. They believe that humans are the only species to have developed high intelligence because their offspring are helpless at birth. This helplessness created pressure for parents to be intelligent to help their offspring survive.

Human infants are born before they are fully developed. This is to ensure that their heads are still small enough to ensure safe delivery for both mother and child. As a result, they require longer weaning time, or the transition period wherein babies get used to food other than milk, compared to other species such as giraffes, which can walk and stand up hours after birth. According to the study, species that have the longest weaning time are the most intelligent.

The researchers added that this theory may also explain why humans have better social reasoning skills, like anticipating and recognizing the needs of others. These skills are helpful to parents because infants cannot verbally express their needs. Mothers evolved with a higher level of verbal intelligence because they look after their children. Fathers also evolved with higher intelligence to take care of the infant and its mother, and to defend his family.

However, some researchers are not convinced. Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary psychologist, argues that human intelligence develops as humans adapt to changes in their environment. This, in turn, results to increased capabilities to protect offspring from danger.

Meanwhile, Chet Sherwood, a critic from The George Washington University, said that this connection has been discussed by anthropologists for a long time. He claims that the idea of the connection between intelligence and raising a child has been established before.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you were one of the researchers, what would you say to the critics to defend the theory?
·         What could the researchers have done differently, considering the critics’ points?

Discussion B

·         What factors do you think affect human intelligence?
·         Do you think that there are different types of intelligence? Why or why not?

August 3, 2016