“The fetus can distinguish between different forms, preferring those that look like faces”, explained Vincent Reid of the University of Lancaster.
Fetuses that are developing in the uterus, react better and faster to images that may resemble faces than, for example, light stimuli. Researchers have recently discovered that it is possible to explore the perception and visual knowledge in babies even before birth.
Projecting light through the mother’s uterine walls, the researchers found that fetuses at 34 weeks of gestation turned their heads toward shapes that resembled human faces, far more than when other types of images were projected.
“We have shown that the fetus can distinguish between different forms, preferring those that look like faces”, said Vincent Reid, of the British University of Lancaster, noting that it was already known that this happened to babies after their birth.
The research, which was published in the journal Current Biology, was powered by new high-quality 4D ultrasound technology and the discovery that light can be delivered to the uterus through tissues.
Researchers tested the reactions of 39 fetuses to light patterns that looked like faces that crossed their field of vision while accompanying their movements.
The fetuses reacted much more to faces that were presented to them in the correct position than to others that appeared inverted. The researchers ‘conclusion is that babies’ preference for human faces begins in the uterus and is not learned after birth.
In addition, the study also concludes that fetuses can have visual experiences in the uterus, but regardless, researchers caution and urge pregnant women not to point bright lights at their bellies.