Preference for the upper part of the visual field occurs in the first months after birth

(ORDO NEWS) — People perceive faces faster and remember them better if they see them at the top of their visual field. Experiments on babies have shown that this mysterious preference is not given from birth and develops in the sixth or seventh month of life.

Our perception of the world around us is far from straightforward, not constant and not homogeneous. Faces are more easily identified and remembered better if they were seen at the top of the field of view.

The reasons and mechanisms underlying this asymmetry are unknown. However, recently Japanese psychologists have managed to show that it is not “wired” into the brain initially, but arises in the first months of life and interaction with the outside world.

Shuma Tsurumi and colleagues conducted experiments with infants between the ages of five and eight months. The kids were shown paired images of human faces, placing them next to each other or one above the other.

Psychologists kept track of which face would be the first to attract attention, noting that a clear preference for the top appears in children from about seven months. They also remembered the upper face better, but they did not reveal such a difference for horizontally located images.

preference for the upper part of the visual field occurs in the first months after birth 2

In addition, the researchers showed that this asymmetry of visual perception only affects faces. When using pairs of pictures with houses, they attracted attention equally, regardless of whether they were located vertically or horizontally.

All this, according to scientists, indicates that the preference for the upper part of the visual field develops in children in the first six to seven months of life, as a result of constant observation of the faces of parents and other adults, as well as “a tireless craving to communicate and interact with them.”

“What a child sees as they develop is constantly changing,” explains Shuma Tsurumi. – The experience of the spatial relationship between the face and the body – the fact that they are connected into one whole – accumulates gradually.

We hypothesize that the frequency of observation of these body-face relationships leads to the development of a preference for faces seen at the top of the visual field.”


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