See the world through your newborn’s eyes!

New mums and dads are often seeing smiling and cooing at their newborn babies in the hope of getting some sort of reaction.

First smiles are rightly celebrated though many a new dad has confused the facial expressions caused by wind with a very early grin!

But imagine knowing exactly what your newborn is seeing when they look up at you.

Thanks to a new study, we now have a clearer picture which shows babies as young as two and three days old can recognise facial expressions. 

The study, conducted by the University of Oslo’s Institute of Psychology in collaboration with the University of Uppsala and Exlipse Optics in Stockholme, Sweden, has – for the first time – been able to reconstruct infants visual perception of the world.

According to the institute, by combining technology, mathematics and previous knowledge of the visual perception of infants, researchers have finally succeeded in showing to an adult audience how much of its environment a newborn baby can actually see.

The results, explained in a statement released by the institute, tell us that an infant of 2 to 3 days old can perceive faces, and perhaps also emotional facial expressions, at a distance of 30 centimetres – which corresponds to the distance between a mother and her nursing baby.

If the distance is increased to 60 centimeters, the visual image gets too blurred for the baby to perceive faces and expressions.

The study may help explain claims that newborn babies can imitate facial expressions in adults during the first days and weeks of their lives. The key word, says the institute, is motion.

“Previously, when researchers have tried to estimate exactly what a newborn baby sees, they have invariably used still photos. But the real world is dynamic. Our idea was to use images in motion,” says professor emeritus Svein Magnussen from the Institute of Psychology.

In other words, it’s easier to recognise something that moves, than a blurry still photo.

The researchers made video recordings of faces that changed between several emotional expressions, filtering out information known to be unavailable to newborns.

Then they let adult participants see the videos. The idea was that if the adults were able to identify a facial expression, then we can assume that a newborn can do the same.

The adult participants correctly identified facial expressions in three out of four cases when viewing the video at a distance of 30 centimeters.

When the distance was increased to 120 centimeters, the rate of identification decreased dramatically, showing that a newborn’s vision was limited by distance.

Professor Magnussen adds that it’s important to remember that researchers have only investigated what the newborn infant can actually see, not whether they are able to make sense of it

To check out the video visit the Institute of Psychology

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