From the moment babies open their eyes, we coo, we hover, we make silly faces and noises. And while we’ve been told that baby’s vision is limited and generally only able to discern light from dark in the beginning, it’s never been quite clear how much these little bundles of joy can actually see through their squinting eyes. A new study published in the Journal of Vision uses an innovative approach to determine how several varied facial expressions would appear to an infant. The researchers claim that one key component of their study is that they used a looped video of the changing facial expressions instead of still images, which have typically been used in past vision studies.
The actual process of how the researchers managed to recreate a newborn’s vision for adults is pretty technical, but they managed to distill the essence into the cool visual at the top of this post. Most newborns (at 2-3 days) can see about 30 centimeters away, roughly the distance between a nursing baby and her mama’s face. As evident in the visual aide, most of the expressions at that distance are identifiable albeit blurry, although there’s no way of knowing how and if a newborn actually understands these expressions. At 60 or 120 cm, virtually all of the facial expressions are indiscernible, meaning that in those early days and weeks that anything an arm’s length away or more would be too blurry to consistently identify. Just another reason to keep those babies close (as if we needed one!) as they are beginning to experience the world.
Lead image via UIO Department of Psychology