Just how soon babies can perceive specific features of their world is a hot topic among psychologists. A new study in this area has found that by 9 weeks of age, babies can learn to recognize and favor a new face in a matter of minutes (SN: 7/7/01, p. 10: Faces of Perception).
If calm infants spent a brief period–3 1/2 minutes, in this study–looking into the eyes of a smiling female stranger who also delivered a sweet-tasting drink or pacifier, they subsequently preferred looking at that person rather than another stranger. A pacifier dipped in sugar water yielded the strongest face preferences with 9-week-olds; squirts of a sucrose solution from a sterile syringe worked best with 12-week-olds.
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