Methodological problems in a study of fetal visual perception

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

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10 Citations (Scopus)
305 Downloads (Pure)


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
Pages (from-to)R594-R596
Number of pages3
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2018


  • Female
  • Fetus
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Visual Perception


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