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Learning to see: How vision sharpens
September 19th, 2011
09:12 AM ET

Learning to see: How vision sharpens

Editor's Note: Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang are the authors of Welcome to Your Child's Brain, a guide to what's really going on in the mind from conception to college.

Babies are born nearly blind. You may think that your newborn is gazing into your eyes, but what she actually sees is a vaguely face-shaped blur, associated with loving sounds and possibly milk. How she develops mature vision is mostly automatic, requiring involvement from you only at a few key points.

Though vision feels seamless, the brain constructs its image of the world from neural activity in dozens of interconnected regions that specialize in particular aspects of seeing. All these cortical areas are immature at birth, so babies’ acuity starts out forty times worse than adults’ and doesn’t become equal until four to six years of age. Indeed, an adult who could see as well as a newborn would have 20/600 vision.

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