On November 27, the Center for Research and Development Initiatives held a press conference for its research results of the experimental studies on development of social and material perception (representative researcher: Professor Masami K. Yamaguchi, Faculty of Letters).
Press conference: “The importance of the contrast between the white of the eyes and the pupils – A world-first in understanding baby brain responses to people’s eyes-”
Hiroko Ichikawa Research fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Assistant Professor of the Chuo University Center for Research and Development Initiatives
Masami K. Yamaguchi The Chuo University Center for Research and Development Initiatives, Professor in the Faculty of Letters
So Kanazawa Professor of the Faculty of Integrated Arts and Social Sciences, Japan Women’s University
- Even if it is a well-known face of a public figure, we know that the face becomes difficult to recognize if the contrast between the whites of the eyes and pupils are reversed. Is this strange face, known as the Tony Blair illusion, seen as a face by infants? This has become clear by studying infants’ brain activity when they see faces with eye contrast reversal using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS). NIRS is a non-invasive devise which measures changes in intracerebral hemoglobin levels and has been widely used for brain response measurements on infants in recent years.
This research suggests 1) that the ability to recognize a face through eye contrast unique to humans develops at around 5-6 months, and 2) it is possible that a face with eyes unique to humans is processed in an infant’s right-brain.
This research was published in the November issue of the European cognitive neuroscience journal Neuropsychologia through joint-research between the Chuo University Center for Research and Development Initiatives and the National Institute for Physiological Sciences (Professor Ryusuke Kakigi).
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