Infant brains have powerful reactions to fear | Science News



Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.

News in Brief

Infant brains have powerful reactions to fear

Babies as young as 5 months old respond to facial emotions

7:00am, November 15, 2016
scared baby

FACE OFF  Babies as young as 5 months old can detect different emotions in human faces, a new study finds.

SAN DIEGO — Babies as young as 5 months old possess networks of brain cell activity that react to facial emotions, especially fear, a new study finds.

“Networks for recognizing facial expressions are in place shortly after birth,” Catherine Stamoulis of Harvard Medical School said November 13 during a news conference at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience. “This work … is the first evidence that networks that are involved in a function that is critical to survival, such as the recognition of facial expressions, come online very early in life.”

Stamoulis and colleagues at Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital analyzed a database of brain electrical activity collected from 58 infants as they aged from 5 months to 3 years. Brain activity was measured as the infants viewed pictures of female faces expressing happiness, anger or fear. Computer models of the brain activity showed that networks

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content