> Babies Have Self-Awareness From The Minute They're Born
> By: By Stephanie Pappas, Senior Writer
> Published: 11/21/2013 12:10 PM EST on LiveScience
> With their uncoordinated movements and unfocused eyes, newborns may seem
> pretty clueless about the world. But new research finds that from the
> minute they are born, babies are well aware of their own bodies.
> Body awareness is an important skill for distinguishing the self from
> others, and failure to develop body awareness may be a component of some
> disorders such as
> But little research has been done to find out when humans start to
> understand that their body is their own.
> To determine babies' awareness of their bodies, the researchers took a
> page from studies on adults. In a famous illusion, people can be convinced
> that a rubber hand is their
> they see the hand stroked while their own hand, hidden from view, is
> simultaneously stroked.
> These studies show that information from multiple senses — vision and
> touch, in this case — are important for body awareness, said Maria Laura
> Filippetti, a doctoral student at the Center for Brain and Cognitive
> Development at the University of London. [Incredible! 9 Brainy Baby
> To find out if the same is true of babies, Filippetti and her colleagues
> tested 40 newborns who were between 12 hours and four days old. The babies
> sat on the experimenter's lap in front of a screen. On-screen, a video
> showed a baby's face being stroked by a paintbrush. The researcher either
> stroked the baby's face with a brush in tandem with the stroking shown on
> the screen, or delayed the stroking by five seconds.
> Next, the babies saw the same video but flipped upside down. Again, the
> researcher stroked the infants' faces in tandem with the upside-down image
> or delayed the stroking by three seconds.
> Working with babies so young is a challenge, Filippetti told LiveScience.
> "It is challenging just in terms of the time you actually have when the
> baby is fully awake and responsive," she said.
> To determine whether the babies were associating the facial stroking they
> saw on-screen with their own bodies, as in the rubber-hand
> the researchers measured how long the babies looked at the screen in each
> condition. Looking time is the standard measurement used in infant
> research, because babies can't answer questions or verbally indicate their
> The researchers found that babies looked the longest at the screen when
> the stroking matched what they felt on their own faces. This was true only
> of the right-side-up images; infants didn't seem to associate the flipped
> faces with their own. [See video of the baby
> The findings suggest that babies are born with the basic mechanisms they
> need to build body awareness, Filippetti and her colleagues report today
> (Nov. 21) in the journal Current Biology.
> "These findings have important implications for our understanding of body
> perception throughout development," Filippetti said. Perhaps more
> important, she added, becoming more knowledgeable about normal development
> may help scientists better understand autism and related disorders. Autism
> research frequently focuses on abnormalities in social
> Filippetti said, but less is known about how children with autism perceive
> the self.
> Next, Filippetti and her colleagues hope to use noninvasive brain imaging
> to determine how the newborn brain responds to sensory input to build body
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