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Babies can recognise emotion in faces

A new study has found that babies can recognise emotions in people's faces
Emotions in people's faces can be recognised by babies at just four months old, new research has found.

Before infants learn to talk they can recognise signs like smiling and raised eyebrows, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Scientists got four-month-olds to take part in two scenarios, one where eye contact was made with another person and one where the other person avoided it, with both ending in an eyebrow raise and smile.

It was found that babies use the same brain regions as adults when they look at the face of a person.

The study was carried out by Dr Tobias Grossman, Professor Gergely Csibra, Professor Mark Johnson and colleagues at The Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London, along with Professor Clare Ewell of University College London.

"In four-month-old babies we demonstrate very early specialisation, and indeed, an adult-like pattern of activation of the brain regions that process face-to-face social interaction," said Dr Grossman told the newspaper.

Results from the study may help researchers understand more about autism, as autistic children have been shown to have difficulty making eye contact.

"We are not claiming it could diagnose autism - merely that it may prove a useful early warning signal," Professor Johnson told the newspaper.

The study was reported in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences.

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