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Researchers show infants' sophisticated ability to process faces

If you're a parent, chances are good that you spent many hours staring at your baby - and having your baby stare right back. Some new research out of the Stanford Vision and NeuroDevelopment Lab may be of interest, then: Researchers there have discovered a physical basis for babies' long gazes at faces. As described in a university release, the team noninvasively measured electrical activity generated in 17 healthy, full-term infants' brains and found: early as four months, babies' brains already process faces at nearly adult levels, even while other images are still being analyzed in lower levels of the visual system.

The results fit, [postdoctoral fellow Faraz Farzin, PhD] pointed out, with the prominent role human faces play in a baby's world.

"If anything's going to develop earlier it's going to be face recognition," she said.

Farzin notes that the study shows babies are "not yet face experts like adults, but well on their way." And as pointed out in the release, these findings, which appear in the journal Journal of Vision, "could have significance for a class of neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions that cause lifelong struggles with facial recognition."

Photo courtesy of the Stanford Vision and NeuroDevelopment Lab

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