It’s well known that twins have a special bond, but scientists are only beginning to understand how that connection begins even before birth.
According to Scientific American, researchers at Italy’s University of Parma noted how newborns are prepared to interact socially within hours after birth, responding to and imitating facial gestures.
What if that meant that the ability to socialize was developed in the womb? Of course, most babies don’t have anyone around to interact with in utero… except in the case of twins.
When scientists observed interactions between twins in the womb, they made an astounding discovery— as early as 14 weeks after gestation, twins are able to demonstrate intentional social contact with each other. And as they grow, that contact only increases.
In essence, twins are communicating with each other even before they are born.
How did the researchers know that the contact was intentional? As the explains, the twin babies were observed reaching for each other at around 14 weeks.
As time went on, they noted that the babies began to make fewer movements toward themselves and more toward the twin. By eighteen weeks, they spend more time making contact with their twin than with themselves or the walls of the uterus, and about thirty percent of their movements are toward the brother or sister sharing the womb.
But it isn’t just a question of contact. It’s also the kind of contact being made.
Actions twins made toward their companion seemed more accurate, deliberate, and lasted longer than the kinds of actions they made toward themselves. Social actions would be things like stroking the head or back of their fellow twin.
The researchers also noticed that as the twins developed, certain movements seemed slower and gentler— like reaching toward the eye or other delicate areas.
In short, the researchers discovered that the twins made deliberate, planned movements to touch or stroke each other in the womb— evidence of social behavior that changed the previous thinking on how humans develop.
“These findings force us to predate the emergence of social behavior,” said Cristina Becchio, co-author of the study.
The implication is that if social development can be observed in the womb, then perhaps developmental disorders relating to social behavior might also begin in utero.
Twins don’t necessarily have a more finely-tuned social ability, but they definitely get someone to practice on way before the rest of us.