An article in the British periodical The Daily Mail discusses an article in The Journal Developmental Psychobiology which describes the cognitive development of unborn babies. Based on conclusions reached by researchers from Durham and Lancaster Universities in the U.K.
“For the first time, psychologists discovered that foetuses were able to predict, rather than react to, their own hand movements towards their mouths as they entered the later stages of gestation compared to earlier in a pregnancy….
Psychologist Dr Nadja Reissland explained: ‘Increased touching of the lower part of the face and mouth in foetuses could be an indicator of brain development necessary for healthy development, including preparedness for social interaction, self-soothing and feeding.’
The discovery comes after a previous study found babies make faces in the womb, potentially as practice before coming in to the world.
Dr Reissland and a team of researchers from Lancaster University and Durham University, which led the study, used ‘4D’ ultrasound scans – 3D scans that can be seen in real time – to image eight girls and seven boys once a month between the 24th and 36th week of pregnancy.
Both boys and girls showed the same rate of development during the study.
In the earlier stage of gestation they saw babies touch the upper part and sides of their heads, although later on they began to touch the the lower, more sensitive, part of their faces and mouths.
By the 36th week the majority of fetuses were seen opening their mouths before they touched them, which scientists say is a sign that they were anticipating touch…..
Scientists believe that moving in sequence, opening mouths before sucking on a finger or thumb, shows intention is developing in the fetuses….”
Sarah Griffiths “Remarkable 3D images of a foetus in a womb reveal how a baby’s touching of its face is indicative of its physical and psychological development” Daily Mail 9 October 2013
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