Babies Recognize Faces Better Than Adults

According to a story on BBC news it seems babies recognize faces better than adults. That’s right! Scientists that have conducted the research have found that babies actually lose their abilities to recognize faces as they grow older.


Studies have found that six-month-old infants have better visual acuity than adults. Also, infants at this age are innately attracted to faces. Because infants often perceive faces as an independent collection of facial features, their perceptions of the face are not yet the discriminated renderings that are usually seen by both older babies of nine months and older. Another interesting finding is that it doesn’t even matter whether the faces are upside down or right side up because an infant will know the difference. Moreover, as babies grow older and they gain more experience with faces they lose this heightened perceptual ability.

For example, take the study conducted by Oliverier Pascalis, Michelle de Haan, and Charles A. Nelson who wanted to test their hypothesis that an infant’s broadly tuned facial recognition processes would work well even for monkeys and better than adults. The study involved thirty six-month-olds, thirty nine-month-olds, and 11 adults which yielded some surprising results. It seems things panned out just as they predicted. The adults had a difficult time with recognizing monkey faces.

In conclusion, six-month-olds infants with broadly tuned face recognition processes are better at facial recognition because their brains are not yet refined enough to discriminate. In other words their perceptions are more open because they haven’t developed a preference yet. As the brain develops and undergoes various changes in perception (changes in the occipital lobe) the babies heightened ability to recognize faces becomes tainted and in a sense degrades over time as they progress into adulthood.

I found this research to be quite interesting because it reveals a lot of insights about how many of us come to perceive the world and how the world that we inhabit is often the product of discrimination. This takes the statement of the blind leading the blind to a whole new level. Studies on the brain show that it’s the brain that sees and hears and not our ears and eyes which suggest some remarkable things about who, why, and where we are as a species. So it might be wise for us to sometimes take a step back to examine our perceptions to discern how we’ve changed and how much of our innocence we have lost in the process of development. Perhaps by doing this we might get our innocence back, and if not at least we might see things with just a little more clarity.


Babies recognize faces better than adults. Retrieved from Link

Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2010). Human development, a life-span view. (5th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.

Post Author: Chad

A Nobody Just Trying to Figure Things Out.

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