Development of face perception in preterm infants (The BabyFace Study)

Research area

 |  Preterm Birth


 |  Preterm infants, brain development, cerebral blood flow, cerebral oxygenation


 |  PhD/Doctorate, Honours

Contact supervisors at any time

Associate Professor Flora Wong

Dr Robin Laycock (External) and Prof David Walker

Project description

The study aims to understand how preterm babies develop the ability to recognise and understand faces. Exposure to faces and facial expressions are thought to promote the development of face perception, which has been linked to development of speech and social skills such as cooperative play and recognising emotions. Children born preterm have been reported to have slower development of face perception.

We will recruit babies born before 32 weeks and at full-term. We will record their brain response to socio-visual stimuli (videos of human faces with and without face-masks) using multi-channel NIRS (near infrared spectroscopy) after 6 months of term-equivalent age. The data will allow understanding of face perception which is critical for play and speech in babies. It also gives insight into how the infant brain response is affected by mask-wearing (mandatory in hospitals since COVID-19).