Infants Use Expectations to Shape Their Brains

21st July, 2015

newborn[Source:  Medical XPress]

Infants can use their expectations about the world to rapidly shape their developing brains, researchers have found.

A series of experiments with infants ages 5 to 7 months has shown that portions of babies’ brains responsible for visual processing respond not just to the presence of visual stimuli, but also to the mere expectation of visual stimuli, according to the researchers from Princeton University, the University of Rochester and the University of South Carolina.
That type of sophisticated neural processing was once thought to happen only in adults and not infants, whose brains are still developing important neural connections.
“We show that in situations of learning and situations of expectations, babies are in fact able to really quickly use their experience to shift the ways different areas of their brain respond to the environment,” said Lauren Emberson, one of the researchers, who will join the Princeton faculty Sept. 1 as an assistant professor of psychology. She comes to Princeton from the University of Rochester, where she is a postdoctoral associate.
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