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Andrew Meltzoff’s study on babies and empathy is featured in this Parent Map article

Babies Know More About Empathy Than You Think

New research from the University of Washington for expectant and new parents


Good news for parents: Your baby really does love to be touched and may even appreciate you giving your partner a foot rub, too. New research from the University of Washington (UW)suggests that even tiny babies understand the importance of touch and human connection.

With the use of new brain imaging techniques, Andrew Meltzoff (UW psychology professor and co-director of The Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, I-LABS ) and his team were able to see how a 7-month-old infant responds to touch.

With the help of a magnetoencephalography (MEG) machine, the researchers discovered which parts of the brain lit up when the baby experienced touch. Interestingly, some parts of the brain lit up when the baby watched an adult’s hand or foot being touched too.

“Before they have words for the body parts, babies recognize that their hand is like your hand, and their foot is like your foot,” said Meltzoff.

It suggests that even very young babies understand touch and have empathy.

“Long before babies acquire spoken language, touch is a crucial channel of communication between caregivers and babies,” said Meltzoff.

So even though your little one can’t talk yet, it shows how important it is to demonstrate your love to them and to those around you.

Read the entire article here .