How babies’ brains process touch

I-LABSMedia Coverage, Publication, Research

Through the use of safe, new brain imaging techniques, UW researchers provide one of the first looks inside the infant’s brain to show where the sense of touch is processed — not just when a baby feels a touch to the hand or foot, but when the baby sees an adult’s hand or foot being touched as well.

Photo Credit: Danny Alpert/No Small Matter

I-LABS researchers, led by co-Director Andrew Meltzoff, published a set of studies to examine 7-month-old infants’ neural representations of the body, or “body maps”. The work appears in Developmental Science. The research shows a specific pattern of brain activation when infants are touched on their hands and feet (“felt touch”), as well as what happens when infants simply observe someone else being touched on their hands or feet (“observed touch”). This new research illuminates the connections between self and other in early infancy. 

Read UW press release

Read the journal article

Listen to NPR story

Read Wall Street Journal article