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WASHINGTON: Babies develop facial expressionssuch as parting lips, wrinkling a nose or lowering a brow much before they are born, a new study has shown.
And as the foetus grows, these facial motions become increasingly complex, found the study by researchers at the University of Durham in the UK.
While it was known that foetuses could form expressions while in the womb, this new study tracked facial movements over time, Live-Science reported.
By capturing images of two foetuses periodically from 24 to about 35 weeks of gestation, the Durham team watched individual, unrelated movements progress to complex combinations, associated with recognizable facial expressions.
“What we have found for the first time is you can look at the progression of the complexity of the movements ,” lead study author Nadja Reissland said.
In addition to tracking 19 total facial movements, the researchers focused on sets of movements associated with two expressions, one with crying, the other laughing . Over time, the movements associated with these began to appear in more complex combinations.