March 11, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

Humans Are Exceptional at Birth – and Before

More studies show humanness from the start of life.

The Human Fetus Preferentially Engages with Face-like Visual Stimuli (Current Biology). Mothers know that their babies in the womb respond to sound, such as when they sing lullabies to them, but did parents know they can respond to sight as well? In this study, published in an open-access paper, researchers projected three lights through maternal tissue to 39 unborn babies at 25 weeks gestation. The babies looked toward the three lights when they were arranged like a face (two eyes and a mouth), but not if the lights were inverted.

In the third trimester of pregnancy, the human fetus has the capacity to process perceptual information. With advances in 4D ultrasound technology, detailed assessment of fetal behavior is now possible. Furthermore, modeling of intrauterine conditions has indicated a substantially greater luminance within the uterus than previously thought. Consequently, light conveying perceptual content could be projected through the uterine wall and perceived by the fetus, dependent on how light interfaces with maternal tissue. We do know that human infants at birth show a preference to engage with a top-heavy, face-like stimulus when contrasted with all other forms of stimuli. However, the viability of performing such an experiment based on visual stimuli projected through the uterine wall with fetal participants is not currently known. We examined fetal head turns to visually presented upright and inverted face-like stimuli. Here we show that the fetus in the third trimester of pregnancy is more likely to engage with upright configural stimuli when contrasted to inverted visual stimuli, in a manner similar to results with newborn participants. The current study suggests that postnatal experience is not required for this preference. In addition, we describe a new method whereby it is possible to deliver specific visual stimuli to the fetus. This new technique provides an important new pathway for the assessment of prenatal visual perceptual capacities.

Now that visual response has been demonstrated in unborn babies, follow-up studies will have “implications for further understanding of the fetus,” the authors say.

Uncovering the secrets of the human body’s perception of touch ( Haptics scientist Masashi Nakatani, an expert in tactile sensors, has been studying the developmental process of touch in infants. “One of my goals is to clarify how body perception helps us acquire cognitive skills that are unique to human beings, particularly in the modern information age,” he says. Concerned about the rise in electronic displays for children at a young age, he doesn’t want them to miss out on the important process of exploring their environment through touch, an important part of the enjoyment of life.

Nakatani and colleagues invented the TECHTILE toolkit to promote people to appreciate the sense of touch. “I think that modern haptic devices must provide greater value for us to enjoy our daily lives,” says Nakatani. One of Nakatani’s students, Kazuki Sakurada, has developed a smartphone-based haptic chat system with audio-vibrotactile feedback to provide a sense of presence of others during text conversations. “This study may yield clues about the importance of somatic feedback in emotional attachment with other people (Fig. 2),” says Nakatani. “In the long term, I would like to enhance human abilities to extract valuable knowledge from overwhelming, excessive information in the environment.

Young babies disapprove when they see adults acting immorally (New Scientist). The human moral sense is evident early on in newborns, says Anil Ananthaswamy:

Even four-month-old infants expect adults to comfort crying babies. The finding suggests that we may be born with a foundation of morality that becomes the basis for more advanced moral and social behaviour in later life.

Psychologists have long debated whether moral behaviour is innate or learned. In 2007, Kiley Hamlin and colleagues at Yale University found that 6-month-old and 10-month-old babies prefer people who help others, and show an aversion to those who don’t.

The findings undermine claims, like those of philosopher John Locke, that humans are born as a “blank slate” (tabula rasa), learning everything by experience. Instead, a “foundation of morality” is already there, with some understanding of what human beings “should” be doing, including helping those who are hurting.

Former Planned Parenthood chief executive Cecile Richards is still callous, smug and unrepentant about the sale of baby body parts from her company’s chief industry, abortion, two years after the scandal was exposed. Now, she is even challenging the right of physicians not to perform abortions for ‘moral’ objections (Breitbart News), which amounts to forcing them to violate their conscience. Recently, Planned Parenthood acknowledge the racist and eugenics views of its infamous founder, Margaret Sanger (Breitbart News), but another video from the Center for Medical Progress uncovers what they do with the killed babies: “Clinics grind remains of aborted babies, flush them in sewer” (WND).

Knowing this, how can citizens feel anything but horror and disgust at this evil industry’s unconscionable actions? Now hear this: Despite the present administration’s many good moves on social issues since the last election, they have still not cut the funding of nearly half a billion dollars per year to the abortion giant—largely because of unanimous opposition by every Democrat in Congress every time it is proposed as part of a bill. How many more unborn babies will never see, hear, or touch with their marvelous senses? Keep the pressure on!

To learn more, watch Lila Rose of Live Action on Prager University describe what Planned Parenthood does (text on Truth Revolt).

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