The Eyes Have It: Newborns prefer faces with a direct gaze

7:41pm, July 1, 2002

Newborn babies may not look particularly busy, but they're already hard at work building social proficiency. Consider that, according to a new report, 2-to-5-day-old infants already home in on faces that fix them with a direct gaze and devote less attention to faces with eyes that look to one side.

What's more, in 4-month-olds, direct eye contact elicits enhanced brain activity associated with face perception, say psychologist Teresa Farroni of the University of London and her colleagues.

"The exceptionally early sensitivity to mutual gaze demonstrated in our studies is arguably the major foundation for the later development of social skills," Farroni holds.

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