Methodological problems in a study of fetal visual perception

Anne M. Scheel, Stuart J. Ritchie, Nicholas J.L. Brown, Steven L. Jacques

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Reid et al. [1] analysed data from 39 third-trimester fetuses, concluding that they showed a preferential head-orienting reaction towards lights projected through the uterine wall in a face-like arrangement, as opposed to an inverted triangle of dots. These results imply not only that assessment of visual-perceptive responses is possible in prenatal subjects, but also that a measurable preference for faces exists before birth. However, we have identified three substantial problems with Reid et al.’s [1] method and analyses, which we outline here. A recent study on visual perception in human fetuses suggested that a preference for face-like shapes may be present before birth. Scheel et al. comment on this study, describing three methodological and analytical problems that call its conclusions into question.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R594-R596
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 21 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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