An MIT study has shown babies as young as one-year-old have the ability of making decisions about the prospect of a happening they have never seen before.

The team of international researchers led by MIT’s Josh Tenenbaum , associate professor of cognitive science and computation at MIT, used a computer model to forecast precisely what a new-born would know about a certain incident if provided the accurate information.

“Real intelligence is about finding yourself in situations that you’ve never been in before but that have some abstract principles in common with your experience, and using that abstract knowledge to reason productively in the new situation,” said Tenebaum in the university website.

The scientists have also developed a computational model of infant cognition that precisely predicts infants’ surprise at events that infringe their conception of the physical world.

The model replicates a form of intelligence known as pure reasoning which measures the probability of a particular event depending on how objects behave. The association between the model’s predictions and the infants’ responses suggests that infants reason in a similar way, says Tenenbaum.

Josh Tenenbaum and Luca Bonatti, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona are co-senior authors of the Science paper. The co-lead authors are Edward Vul, a former MIT student who worked with Tenenbaum and is now at the University of California at San Diego, and Erno Teglas of Central European University in Hungary.