In the first months of life, babies can sense the space around them and understand how their bodies interact with that space, according to a study published in ‘Scientific Reports’. The research was conducted by a team of psychologists at the University of Birmingham, who found that babies as young as four months old can feel this awareness through somatosensory brain activity.
The study involved showing a ball on a screen moving towards or away from the babies while their brain activity was measured. When the ball was closest to them on the screen, they were presented with a “touch” (a small vibration) on their hands. The findings revealed that when the touch on their hand was preceded by an object moving towards them, babies showed increased somatosensory brain activity. This suggests that babies can sense objects in space and understand how they relate to their own bodies.
The researchers also found that in eight-month-old babies, when the touch on their hand was preceded by the ball on the screen moving away from them, their brain activity showed signs that they were surprised. This indicates that as babies progress through their first year of life, they develop a more sophisticated awareness of how their body exists in space around them.
The researchers hope to conduct further studies with younger and older participants to shed light on the types of brain activity that are developing in infants and children. They also hope to see if there are early signs of these multisensory abilities in newborn babies. If these abilities exist earlier than previously thought, it could have implications for our understanding of human consciousness and perception.