IELTS Academic Reading Practice 15

 
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This reading practice simulates one part of the IELTS Academic Reading test. You should spend about twenty minutes on it. Read the passage and answer questions 29-40.

Questions 29-32

Look at the following Statements (Questions 29-32) and List of people below.

Match each statement with the correct person.

Write the correct number A-E in boxes Questions 29-32 on your answer sheet.

NB You may use any letter more than once.

List of people
  1. Jean Piaget
  2. Sylvian Sirois
  3. Lain Jackson
  4. Renee Baillargeon
  5. Elizabeth Spelke

29. Decided that babies spent more time looking at something unusual.
30. Believes in the validity of earlier experiments.
31. Their work is no longer considered relevant to many of today’s experts.
32. Agrees with an earlier theory that babies are born without any innate knowledge of the world around them.
Questions 33-40

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage? In boxes 33-40 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE   if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE   if the statement contradicts the information
NOT GIVEN   if there is no information on this

33. An early theory stated that young children build their knowledge based only on their experiences.
34. One theory states that babies respond to events not because they are impossible but because they are new.
35. Some experiments focused on the way in which babies move their arms and legs when shown an impossible event.
36. It was believed that babies understood something existed, even if they were unable to see it.
37. The data received from some experiments was based on how a babies eyes responded to stimuli.
38. A baby will respond more quickly to the face of their mother.
39. Babies need to spend time learning to recognize a human face.
40. The learning process involves a series of learning from mistakes.

Answer Sheet
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
N/A
14
N/A
15
N/A
16
N/A
17
N/A
18
N/A
19
N/A
20
N/A
21
N/A
22
N/A
23
N/A
24
N/A
25
N/A
26
N/A
27
N/A
28
N/A
29
N/A
30
N/A
31
N/A
32
N/A
33
N/A
34
N/A
35
N/A
36
N/A
37
N/A
38
N/A
39
N/A
40
N/A


  • help Learn how to HIGHLIGHT & ADD NOTES
    1. HOLD LEFT CLICK
    2. DRAG MOUSE OVER TEXT
    3. RIGHT CLICK SELECTED TEXT

Infant Attention

Daniel Haworth got wheeled behind the dark screen with a high chair, suddenly his 9 months old eyebrows got cloaked with fear. His dim blue eyes dart left and right looking for familiar reassurance of his mom's face. She calls his name and makes relieving sounds, however, Daniel detects something unusual going on. He sucks his fingers for comfort but this time, he gets none, making his mouth fold and his body stiffened, and finally, he cries out of distress. This is the usual pattern when babies are abandoned or left alone. His mother lifts him up, consoles him, and after two minutes, fearful and scared Daniel returns to the dark booth behind the scenes and surrenders himself to the baby lab, a unit set up in 2005 at the University of Manchester in northwest England to research how babies think.

It is very fascinating and amazing to most parents and even developmental psychologists to watch babies grow in every aspect of their lives. We can know when they are happy by just a smile or when they are in distress by sign language. But can we know their thoughts?  How much of their understanding and reactions to this world comes instilled at birth? How much does experience impact? Such are the main curiosities being explored at the baby lab. Though the facility is just 18 months old and has tested only 100 infants, it’s already challenging current thinking on what babies know and how they come to know it.

Daniel is now engrossed in watching video clips of a red toy train on a circular track. The train enters a tunnel and emerges on the other side. While all this is happening, an unseen device above the screen is monitoring Daniel’s eyes as they follow the train and measuring the diameter of his pupils 50 times a second. As Daniel gets bored or “habituated”, as psychologists define the process, he rapidly loses attention. But it gets heightened whenever something changes. The train might change colour to green, or even blue and sometimes, an impossible thing can happen like the train going into a tunnel one colour and coming out in another.

Variations of experiments like this one, examining infant attention, have been a standard tool of developmental psychology ever since the Swiss pioneer of the field, Jean Piaget, started experimenting on his children in the 1920s. Piaget’s work led him to conclude that infants younger than 9 months have no innate knowledge of how the world works or any sense of “object permanence” (that people and things still exist even when they’re not seen). Instead, babies must gradually construct this knowledge from experience. Piaget’s “constructivist” theories were massively influential on postwar educators and psychologist, but over the past 20 years or so they have been largely set aside by a new generation of “nativist” psychologists and cognitive scientists whose more sophisticated experiments led them to theorise that infants arrive already equipped with some knowledge of the physical world and even rudimentary programming for math and language. Baby lab director Sylvain Sirois has been putting these smart-baby theories through a rigorous set of tests. His conclusions so far tend to be more Piagetian: “Babies,” he says, “know nothing.”

What Sirois and his postgraduate assistant Lain Jackson are challenging is the interpretation of a variety of classic experiments begun in the mid-1980s in which babies were shown physical events that appeared to violate such basic concepts as gravity, solidity and contiguity. In one such experiment, by University of Illinois psychologist Renee Baillargeon, a hinged wooden panel appeared to pass right through a box. Baillargeon and M.I.T’s Elizabeth Spelke found that babies as young as 3 1/2 months would reliably look longer at the impossible event than at the normal one. Their conclusion: babies have enough built-in knowledge to recognise that something is wrong. Sirois does not take issue with the way these experiments were conducted. “The methods are correct and replicable,” he says, “it’s the interpretation that’s the problem.” In a critical review to be published in the forthcoming issue of the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, he and Jackson pour cold water over recent experiments that claim to have observed innate or precocious social cognition skills in infants. His own experiments indicate that a baby’s fascination with physically impossible events merely reflects a response to stimuli that are novel. Data from the eye tracker and the measurement of the pupils (which widen in response to arousal or interest) show that impossible events involving familiar objects are no more interesting than possible events involving novel objects. In other words, when Daniel had seen the red train come out of the tunnel green a few times, he gets as bored as when it stays the same color. The mistake of previous research, says Sirois, has been to leap to the conclusion that infants can understand the concept of impossibility from the mere fact that they are able to perceive some novelty in it. “The real explanation is boring,” he says.

So how do babies bridge the gap between knowing squat and drawing triangles—a task Daniel’s sister Lois, 2 1/2, is happily tackling as she waits for her brother? “Babies have to learn everything, but as Piaget was saying, they start with a few primitive reflexes that get things going,” said Sirois. For example, hardwired in the brain is an instinct that draws a baby’s eyes to a human face. From brain imaging studies we also know that the brain has some sort of visual buffer that continues to represent objects after they have been removed—a lingering perception rather than conceptual understanding. So when babies encounter novel or unexpected events, Sirois explains, “there’s a mismatch between the buffer and the information they’re getting at that moment. And what you do when you’ve got a mismatch is you try to clear the buffer. And that takes attention.” So learning, says Sirois, is essentially the laborious business of resolving mismatches. “The thing is, you can do a lot of it with this wet sticky thing called a brain. It’s a fantastic, statistical-learning machine”. Daniel, exams ended, picks up a plastic tiger and, chewing thoughtfully upon its heat, smiles as if to agree.

Reading Passage Vocabulary
Infant Attention

Daniel Haworth got wheeled behind the dark screen with a high chair, suddenly his 9 months old eyebrows got cloaked with fear. His dim blue eyes dart left and right looking for familiar reassurance of his mom's face. She calls his name and makes relieving sounds, however, Daniel detects something unusual going on. He sucks his fingers for comfort but this time, he gets none, making his mouth fold and his body stiffened, and finally, he cries out of distress. This is the usual pattern when babies are abandoned or left alone. His mother lifts him up, consoles him, and after two minutes, fearful and scared Daniel returns to the dark booth behind the scenes and surrenders himself to the baby lab, a unit set up in 2005 at the University of Manchester in northwest England to research how babies think.

It is very fascinating and amazing to most parents and even developmental psychologists to watch babies grow in every aspect of their lives. We can know when they are happy by just a smile or when they are in distress by sign language. But can we know their thoughts?  How much of their understanding and reactions to this world comes instilled at birth? How much does experience impact? Such are the main curiosities being explored at the baby lab. Though the facility is just 18 months old and has tested only 100 infants, it’s already challenging current thinking on what babies know and how they come to know it.

Daniel is now engrossed in watching video clips of a red toy train on a circular track. The train enters a tunnel and emerges on the other side. While all this is happening, an unseen device above the screen is monitoring Daniel’s eyes as they follow the train and measuring the diameter of his pupils 50 times a second. As Daniel gets bored or “habituated”, as psychologists define the process, he rapidly loses attention. But it gets heightened whenever something changes. The train might change colour to green, or even blue and sometimes, an impossible thing can happen like the train going into a tunnel one colour and coming out in another.

Variations of experiments like this one, examining infant attention, have been a standard tool of developmental psychology ever since the Swiss pioneer of the field, Jean Piaget, started experimenting on his children in the 1920s. Piaget’s work led him to conclude that infants younger than 9 months have no innate knowledge of how the world works or any sense of “object permanence” (that people and things still exist even when they’re not seen). Instead, babies must gradually construct this knowledge from experience. Piaget’s “constructivist” theories were massively influential on postwar educators and psychologist, but over the past 20 years or so they have been largely set aside by a new generation of “nativist” psychologists and cognitive scientists whose more sophisticated experiments led them to theorise that infants arrive already equipped with some knowledge of the physical world and even rudimentary programming for math and language. Baby lab director Sylvain Sirois has been putting these smart-baby theories through a rigorous set of tests. His conclusions so far tend to be more Piagetian: “Babies,” he says, “know nothing.”

What Sirois and his postgraduate assistant Lain Jackson are challenging is the interpretation of a variety of classic experiments begun in the mid-1980s in which babies were shown physical events that appeared to violate such basic concepts as gravity, solidity and contiguity. In one such experiment, by University of Illinois psychologist Renee Baillargeon, a hinged wooden panel appeared to pass right through a box. Baillargeon and M.I.T’s Elizabeth Spelke found that babies as young as 3 1/2 months would reliably look longer at the impossible event than at the normal one. Their conclusion: babies have enough built-in knowledge to recognise that something is wrong. Sirois does not take issue with the way these experiments were conducted. “The methods are correct and replicable,” he says, “it’s the interpretation that’s the problem.” In a critical review to be published in the forthcoming issue of the European Journal of Developmental Psychology, he and Jackson pour cold water over recent experiments that claim to have observed innate or precocious social cognition skills in infants. His own experiments indicate that a baby’s fascination with physically impossible events merely reflects a response to stimuli that are novel. Data from the eye tracker and the measurement of the pupils (which widen in response to arousal or interest) show that impossible events involving familiar objects are no more interesting than possible events involving novel objects. In other words, when Daniel had seen the red train come out of the tunnel green a few times, he gets as bored as when it stays the same color. The mistake of previous research, says Sirois, has been to leap to the conclusion that infants can understand the concept of impossibility from the mere fact that they are able to perceive some novelty in it. “The real explanation is boring,” he says.

So how do babies bridge the gap between knowing squat and drawing triangles—a task Daniel’s sister Lois, 2 1/2, is happily tackling as she waits for her brother? “Babies have to learn everything, but as Piaget was saying, they start with a few primitive reflexes that get things going,” said Sirois. For example, hardwired in the brain is an instinct that draws a baby’s eyes to a human face. From brain imaging studies we also know that the brain has some sort of visual buffer that continues to represent objects after they have been removed—a lingering perception rather than conceptual understanding. So when babies encounter novel or unexpected events, Sirois explains, “there’s a mismatch between the buffer and the information they’re getting at that moment. And what you do when you’ve got a mismatch is you try to clear the buffer. And that takes attention.” So learning, says Sirois, is essentially the laborious business of resolving mismatches. “The thing is, you can do a lot of it with this wet sticky thing called a brain. It’s a fantastic, statistical-learning machine”. Daniel, exams ended, picks up a plastic tiger and, chewing thoughtfully upon its heat, smiles as if to agree.

 
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