The Atlantic

Fetuses Prefer Face-Like Images Even in the Womb

A pioneering study that showed images to babies in utero paves the way for more research into our prenatal mental abilities.
Source: Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

It is dark in the womb—but not that dark. Human flesh isn’t fully opaque, so some measure of light will always pass through it. This means that even an enclosed space like a uterus can be surprisingly bright. “It’s analogous to being in a room where the lights are switched off and the curtains are drawn, but it’s bright outside,” says Vincent Reid from the University of Lancaster. “That’s still enough light to see easily.”

But what exactly do fetuses see? And how do they react to those images? To find out, Reid shone patterns of red dots into the wombs of women in the third trimester of their pregnancies, and monitored

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