Eva was invited to participate in a study at SISSA on how infants acquire language. It was for babies between 1.5 and 2.5 months of age.
The researcher was Amanda from Slovenia. Here she is soaking a high-tech hairnet that Eva wore for the experiment.
Surprisingly, it didn't seem to bother her a bit.
Eva's only rule was she had to keep her head still for twenty minutes. Eating is really the only way to get her to do that, so I fed her until she fell asleep.
This is what Amanda saw on her screen.
We were put in a sound-proof room and listened to strange syllables for 20 minutes and Amanda recorded Eva's brain activity. The syllables were recognizable ones like Putt and Tupp and clusters that do not exist in any known language as a syllable, like psst. The hypothesis was that already at this age the strange cluster will not register with the infant brain.
Or something like that.
To keep the babies who don't sleep entertained, there was a computer screen with different colored arrows which appeared and disappeared. Eva didn't watch it, but it kept me somewhat distracted.
Those round marks went away pretty fast and we went on with our day. Our next study will be at seven months when they will test Eva as a baby with two native languages (I speak to her in English, Cristian in Italian). Apparently, while they used to say that the advantages of speaking a second language early were detectable around 3 or 4 years of age, now they have found that the same advantages are found even in infants under one year.
Eva even got a paycheck of ten euros just for participating in the study. We have decided to spend that money on baby socks for the newborn babies at the hospital where Eva was born. That was the one thing the ladies in the nursery say they can never have enough of.