A new study made a quite surprising claim as its researchers stated that fetuses could apparently recognize or at least prefer face-like patterns of light while in the womb.
The research team said that it decided to conduct this study to test out a common belief. Newborn babies were noted to be particularly attracted to faces. So the scientists decided to find out if this preference started as they were still in the womb or not.
Previous research already indicated that while still in the womb, babies can detect and react to sounds. Their mother’s voice or music, in general, are given as an example.
“Vision really was the last of the sensory systems for us to understand. And that’s because, until now, we haven’t able to look at vision,” stated Vincent Reid.
He is the leader of the new study and a psychology professor at the Lancaster University in Britain.
Fetuses Preferred Face-Like Patterns
Together with his team, Reid created a primitive face-like red light system. This wasn’t precisely a face but presented the same visual parameters as it. Then, the researchers shined this light on the abdomen of 39 mothers-to-be in their third trimester of pregnancy. At the same time, the scientists watched the fetuses’ reaction to the light thanks to sophisticated ultrasounds.
The team moved around the light and watched as some of the fetuses followed it around as it changed positions. Also, they observed that these were more likely to follow the face-like pattern more than any other. They also followed this over a longer period of time.
According to results, the overall visual response rate was somewhat low. But in those that did, the fetuses were more likely to respond to the ‘face’. Still, the team stresses some facts.
For example, babies will not instantly recognize their mothers’ face, as they are unable to see it. People should also abstain from trying to repeat the experiment on their own.
The visual response rate may have been low, but their significance was “noteworthy”. Researchers, in general, seem to consider this as a step forward in understanding the evolution process.
It could come offer information about the development of the visual system. Or of the moment when the brain starts accumulating and responding to stimuli and information. More research on the matter is still needed. This study’s results are available in the journal Current Biology.
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