Babies as young as 4-months-old could understand when we're sad 1 year ago

Babies as young as 4-months-old could understand when we're sad

The ability to take a walk in another person's shoes is what makes humans human.

It's also what makes us different from animals.

It was once thought that empathy, or the ability to feel what another person is feeling, was developed over time as we grow.

However, a new study has suggested that we might actually be born with the foundations of empathy, and that we could start exhibiting signs of this from as young as four-months-old.

Research conducted by scientists in Goldsmiths in London showed that babies who watched someone else being touched experienced an effect on their own perception of touch.

This same effect was not noted when the babies watched an inanimate object, like a table, be touched.


To conduct their experiment, researchers fitted 15 four-month-olds with electrode caps to monitor their brain activity.

They then showed the babies a paintbrush touching a person's hand, and then a paintbrush touching a table.

The touch centre of the babies' brains was "distracted" when they were watching the person, but not when they were watching the table.

Lead researcher Andy Bremner said that science has only begun to understand how early empathy develops in humans.

“We know that in adults seeing other people being touched, or touching objects, activates similar brain areas as when we experience touch ourselves.

However, we have only just begun to study how this ‘vicarious mapping’ of experiences, something vital to feeling empathy, develops in early life."

The results suggest that even from such a young age, babies can in a way 'feel' what another person is feeling, and have responses according to this.

So the next time you get a bit angry at the latest scandal in Corrie, just remember that your baby might be getting a bit angry for you.