If you’re fortunate enough to have a new baby in your life you already know how he or she constantly brings moments of joyful discovery. Here is one that recently startled me. From about their first birthday, babies respond to eye cues more than head direction cues. This is really quite amazing. What this means is that when I direct my face towards the left but move my eyes to look right, the baby follows my eyes not my head!
Animals don’t do this. They are very alert to the direction that the head of another animal is facing but seem oblivious to eye movement. Most animals including baboons and chimpanzees will glance in the direction they see a human looking. But if a person faces one direction and moves his eyes to another, the primate will follow the face not the eyes. (A dog may be an exception here, but I’ll discuss that in the future.) In fact, we seldom see any animal looking in any direction it is not facing.