Baby’s Gaze May Predict Behavior
A newborn’s gaze may provide hints as to whether that child will tend to be more hyperactive as a child, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.
Scientists from Birkbeck University in London tested 80 newborns between one and four days old. They measured how long each of the babies would focus on an image they were shown. They then followed up years later, when the babies were between three and 10 years old, by asking the parents to fill out a questionnaire regarding their child's behavior and temperament.
Compared to babies who focused on the images for long periods of time, researchers found the babies who focused for less time were more likely to display hyperactivity during their childhood years. The scientists also determined that that those children tended to have other types of behavioral problems.
Researchers don't know what function of the brain or body might be contributing to this effect, but said they “struck” that the differences in visual attention seemed to help predict later behavior. They noted that the study shows babies “are not blank slates,” and that differences may come from genetics or the effects of the womb environment--not merely a result of parenting or childhood environments, as some may believe.