Can Your Baby Recognize You?
As reported in the May 2002 issue of the medical journal Science, researchers in England discovered that six-month-old infants easily distinguish between individual humans and individual monkeys. They outperformed adults, who had an easy time telling apart fellow humans but found it nearly impossible to tell one monkey apart from another.
As baby grows -- and by the age of nine months or so -- this super talent is lost.
"We usually think about development as a process of gaining skills, so what is surprising about this case is that babies seem to lose ability with age," says Michelle de Haan, a co-author of the study at the Institute of Child Health at the University College in London. "This is probably a reflection of the brain's 'tuning in' to the perceptual differences that are most important for telling human faces apart, and losing the ability to detect those differences that are not so useful."