Babies spot faces with adult-like brain power

 

Babies spot faces with adult-like brain power.

Babies spot faces with adult-like brain power.

Researchers say there’s a reason babies fixate on faces. Even before they’re good at distinguishing between basic shapes, babies young as 4 months old can process faces in an adult-like fashion, a new study found.

For adults, faces and familiar objects alike prompted spikes in activity in the temporal lobe, a key region for higher-level visual processing. Researchers observed similar spikes for infants looking at faces, which indicated the babies were “not yet face experts like adults, but well on their way,” said Faraz Farzin, a postdoctoral fellow at the lab, in a statement. But for infants looking at objects, the brain instead lit up in a part of the occipital lobe responsible for processing more low-level visual features, such as contrast or orientation, the researchers said.