Research work which examined the visual perception of babies in the womb carried out at the University of Cumbria ultrasound laboratory in Lancaster and Blackpool Victoria Hospital has been listed as among the most important discoveries of 2017.
The work, a collaboration led by developmental psychologist Professor Vincent Reid from Lancaster University, saw researchers use a light source to project a pattern of three dots in the shape of eyes and a mouth through the uterine wall.
By measuring the way the fetus responded using ultrasound, researchers found that fetuses at 34 weeks are similar to newborn babies in preferring face-like stimuli.
Discovery Magazine included the project at number 83 in the publication’s list of 100 discoveries made last year.
“This was fascinating work to be involved in and resulted in a significant level of interest in this country and around the world,” Dr Tim Donovan, associate professor in medical and sports science at the University of Cumbria, said.
“Work on the project is continuing with Dr Kirsty Dunn who is starting a 3 year Leverhulme Fellowship taking the research forward as we learn more about understanding the sensory and cognitive capabilities of the unborn child using 4D fetal ultrasound.”