Radial localization of odors by human newborns.

J. Rieser, A. Yonas, K. Wikner

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    37 Scopus citations


    To study sensitivity to radial location of an odor source, 20 human newborns, ranging from 16 to 130 hours of age, were presented with a small amount of ammonium hydroxide. The odor source was placed near the nose slightly to the left or right of midline, with its position randomized over repeated trails. Direction of headturn with respect to the odor location and diffuse motor activity were scored from the videotape recordings of the newborns' behavior. It was found that as a group, the newborns turned away from the odor source more frequently than they turned toward it. The tendency to turn away from the odor was stronger in infants who displayed less motor activity after the response. Newborns also exhibited a right bias in the direction of the head movements. It is concluded that a spatially appropriate avoidance response is present in the neonate and that the newborn is innately sensitive to the radial location of an odor.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)856-859
    Number of pages4
    JournalChild development
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - 1976


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