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Study Reveals Incredible Truth About What Newborns Really See
The mind of a newborn is a total mystery—the sights and sounds of our first experiences in the world are too distant of a memory for adults. But now, scientists have found a way to simulate the visual perception of newborn babies and understand their ability to recognize facial expressions.
According to Dr. Svein Magnussen, a professor of psychology at the University of Oslo, this research regarding babies' ability to discern expressions has helped clarify a longstanding debate on the subject.
"We have for many years known that newborn babies have poor eyesight; they do not discriminate colors and that [they] have very low visual acuity," Dr. Magnussen told the Huffington Post. "We now know that newborn infants may be able to see and possibly react to human faces and human facial expressions. That has been a debate in developmental psychology."
For the study, the researchers took images of faces expressing different emotions and filtered out the visual information that they knew a newborn would not be able to perceive. Scientists know that babies of only a few weeks old are unable to distinguish particular facial features, and the greater the distance of the face, the less likely they are able to see it. Based on that knowledge, they altered each expression photo to portray what they believed a baby would be able to see at the distance of 30 cm, 60 cm and 120 cm. The scientists then asked adults to look at the altered photos and try to determine the expressions through the modifications.
The research concluded that newborns could likely recognize different facial expressions from 30 cm away, but any farther distance would likely be too far for a baby's foggy eyes. Here's what babies probably see at those distances:
So next time you see a tiny newborn, just know that they are likely able to see your smile as you gawk over their cuteness.
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