Babies who are very good at processing new information at 6- and 12-months-old are likely to excel in intelligence and academic achievements as young adults in their 20's, according to a study.
Joseph Fagan, a Case Western Reserve University psychologist, directed the study that examined the question of whether the more intelligent infant becomes the more intelligent and more highly achieving adult.
His team found that intelligent babies do become highly achieving adults.
Mensa International, Limited-the international organization of 100,000 people who score at the 98 percentile on IQ tests-and their Mensa Education and Research Foundation, recently recognized Fagan's work with the 2009 Award for Excellence in Research.
Published in the journal Intelligence, a report describing the study points out that intelligence involves processing new information, and then making associations with other information an individual encounters throughout life.
Fagan says that these processes work together to allow an individual to grow in knowledge.
Over 20 years ago, Fagan developed the Fagan Test of Infant Intelligence, which measures the response infants have to pictures of novel objects.
The infant test works by pairing two pictures together for a set period of time.
A researcher watches the length of time an infant looks at the pictures, and then one of the images is paired with a new one, after which the time the infant focuses on the new and old images is recorded once again.
Infants generally spend about 60 percent of the time looking at new images.
In the award-winning research project, Fagan and his colleagues revisited 61 young adults, who had taken the Fagan Test as babies in their first year of life, and also looked at their first IQ tests at the age of 3 and compared them with their scores at 21 years old.
The researchers found an association with intelligence between this early ability to process information and IQ during their young adult years.
They said that infants with the ability to process new information at an early age showed higher levels of academic achievement later in life.
They added that the attention to novelty "tells us that intelligence is continuous from infancy to adulthood," and "underscore the importance of information processing as a means for studying intelligence."
Fagan and his co-investigators believe that this knowledge might prove helpful in understanding how genetics and environment can influence intelligence.