Study explores effect of masks on facial recognition

New research has found that babies can form memories of masked faces

face mask
Pixabay/Julián Amé

Babies can remember masked faces, according to new research published in Infancy.

Scientists from the University of California, Davis conducted research to explore the effect of mask-wearing on the developmental milestones of babies.

The study found that six to nine-month-old babies were able to form memories of masked faces, and recognise those faces when unmasked.

During the research, 58 babies were shown pairs of masked and unmasked faces on a computer screen.

Cameras were used to track the eye movements of the babies, with the babies spending longer looking at images that were unfamiliar.

Study co-author, Michaela DeBolt, shared that when a baby learned a masked face, they recognised the face when it was unmasked.

Study co-author, Lisa Oakes, highlighted that learning faces is central to how babies learn to talk, perceive emotions and develop relationships with caregivers.

“People were very worried about face masks and the effect they would have on how infants are learning about human faces,” she said.

She added that the study highlighted the remarkable ability of babies to adapt.

“I think that it should be very reassuring to parents in general,” Oakes highlighted.