A study published in ‘Scientific Reports’ has found that babies as young as four months old can understand how their bodies interact with the space around them. The research was conducted by a team of psychologists at the University of Birmingham, who showed infants a ball on a screen moving towards or away from them while measuring their brain activity.
The results of the study suggest that babies show increased somatosensory brain activity when they receive a touch on their hands after an object is shown to be moving towards them. This indicates that babies can sense the space around them and understand how their bodies interact with that space, which is known as peripersonal space.
In eight-month-old babies, researchers also found that when the touch on their hand was preceded by the ball on the screen moving away from them, the babies’ brain activity showed signs of surprise. This suggests that as infants progress through their first year of life, they develop a more sophisticated awareness of how their body exists in the space around them.
The researchers hope to conduct further studies with younger and older participants to better understand the types of brain activity that are developing in infants. They also hope to see if there are early signs of these multisensory abilities in newborn babies. If this is true, it could mean that the origins of human consciousness may be rooted in our ability to feel our bodies in space.