Babies Know More Than You Think

Geo Beats

by Geo Beats

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A new study by University of London researchers indicates newborns have the abilities to realize their own existence.

Past studies have shown babies have a sense of awareness and ownership over their bodies, realizing their existence as individual people. A new study by University of London researchers indicates this body awareness is also present in newborns.

To test this, researchers copied the rubber hand illusion where subjects can be made to think a rubber hand is actually their own if they see it being touched by a paintbrush as they feel their own hand, hidden from sight, being touched by a paintbrush.

40 newborns between 12 hours and 4 days old were tested to see how long they would look at, or show interest in, a video of a baby’s cheek being touched with a paintbrush as their own cheeks were being touched or not touched at the same time. They also did the same experiment with the video upside down.

Results showed the infants looked longest when the timing of the paintbrush touches matched the ones they felt on their own cheeks, but only when the images were right side up. They didn’t respond at all to the upside-down images.

The study suggests that understanding how we normally develop a sense of self can assist with insights into abnormal conditions such as autism spectrum disorders.