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New research strongly suggests that the ability to recognize basic colors is hard-wired into our brains from birth. Babies as young as four months old responded to a color despite not having learned the words to describe it, indicating that how we categorize colors is tied to the biology of how we see.

Why it matters: Whether there's a biological basis for universal recognition of colors from birth, or whether we learn how to characterize them after parents and shows like Sesame Street drill them into our heads once we can speak is a debate that has raged for decades. The new study weighs in heavily on the side of the "it's biology" camp, and could lend insight into how we process the world.

How they did it: Researchers showed a particular color to 179 infants 4-6 months old so that they were familiar with it. Then they presented that same color, along with a new color, to the infants. The babies lingered longer on the color they were familiarized with, rather than the new one, meaning that the infant recognized the two as different colors. In other words, they were familiar with "purple" and spent more time looking at it when given a choice later.

Interesting note: The infants distinguished between five basic colors (red, blue, green, yellow and purple) when presented with 14 colors of varying degrees on a color wheel. Those five colors are commonly recognized in dozens of languages in developed and developing nations alike. "The results suggest a biological basis for color categories that is independent of language," the authors wrote.

Another perspective: Researchers not involved in the study told Science the study has some limitations, including that it only looked at infants whose parents spoke English. To extend the results, they said, children in other cultures need to be studied.

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Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

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Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.