How Babies See The World Differently From Adults May Surprise You

The brains of 3-month-old babies may not be fully developed, but they do possess some striking perceptual abilities that adults don’t even have.

New research finds that 3- and 4-month-old infants have unusual visual skills, which allow them to pick out differences in images that adults can’t see — an ability that they lose around the 5-month mark.

Since these babies haven’t yet developed perceptual constancy, a skill that allows us to recognize the same object as being the same in different environments and lighting, they are more able to notice subtle differences in images, such as illumination, according to the Japanese study, which was published in the journal Cell Biology in December.

Susana Martinez-Conde, a neuroscientist at the State University of New York, told The Huffington Post there’s a perceptual narrowing that babies experience. “This means that when they’re born, they’re highly responsive to all sorts of variations in the world,” said Martinez-Conde, who was not involved in the study. “As babies, we have all the capability to perform high-level discriminations. As we grow up, our discimination skills narrow and we are left with only a constrained range of the differences that we are able to appreciate.”

Martinez-Conde reported in the Scientific American last week that the illusion of constancy is an evolutionary adaptation that helped early humans to survive by allowing us to identify important objects despite changes in our physical environment.

“At first we see all differences, and then we learn to ignore certain types of differences so that we can recognize the same object as unchanging in many varied scenarios,” Martinez-Conde wrote in SciAm. “When perceptual constancy arises, we lose the ability to detect multiple contradictions that are nevertheless highly noticeable to young babies.”

Here’s an example, taken from the new —> Read More