by Patrick Appel

Seed talks to developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik about her new book, The Philosophical Baby:

...imagination, which we often think of as a special adult ability, is actually in place in very young children, as early as 18 months old. That ability is very closely related to children’s ability to figure out how the world works. Imagination isn’t just something we develop for our amusement; it seems to be something innate and connected to how we understand the causal structure of the real world. In fact, the new computational model of development we’ve created using what computer scientists call Bayesian networksshows systematically how understanding causation lets you imagine new possibilities. If children are computing in this way, then we’d expect imagination and learning to go hand in hand.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.