Babies in the womb may see more than we know, according to scientists at the University of California at Berkeley. By the second trimester, long before a baby’s eyes can see images, they can detect light.
Light-sensitive cells in the retina may play a larger role in the developing eye and brain than previously thought. These cells were thought to be simple on-off switches, presumably setting up 24-hour, day-night rhythms for the baby. But scientists found that the cells actually talk to one another as part of a network that gives the retina more light sensitivity than once known, and that may enhance the influence of light on the baby’s behavior and brain development.