Newborns may enter the world with the basic systems to distinguish their bodies from those of other people.
When 12-hour- to 4-day-old newborns had their cheeks brushed at the same time as an infant in a video they could see, the newborns spent more time looking at the screen. The babies did not look at the screen as long when the image of the other infant appeared upside down.
Because this pattern of behavior also happens in adults who can easily identify themselves, the results suggest that newborns have a basic ability to perceive their bodies as different from those of other people, researchers' report November 21 in Current Biology.
The results, along with further research, may help guide therapies for autism and other disorders where individuals have difficulty with self-awareness.