Brain more developed at birth than thought

Babies are born with an important collection of fully formed brain networks, including one linked to introspection, a new study shows.

The findings challenge previous ideas about early-stage brain development and activity.

Scientists at the MRC Clinical Sciences Center at Imperial College London used functional MRI to examine the brains of 70 babies born at between 29 and 43 weeks. The scans showed that full-term babies have adult-equivalent resting state networks. These are connected systems of neurons that are always active, even when a person is not focusing on a particular task or is asleep.

One fully formed resting state network identified in babies is called the default mode network, which is believed to be involved in introspection and daydreaming. Previous research had indicated this network was incomplete at birth and developed during early childhood.

Being a foetus is fun

"Some researchers have said that the default mode network is responsible for introspection - retrieving autobiographical memories and envisioning the future, etc. The fact that we found it in newborn babies suggests that either being a foetus is a lot more fun than any of us can remember - lying there happily introspecting and thinking about the future - or that this theory is mistaken," lead author David Edwards said.

"Our study shows that babies' brains are more fully formed than we thought. More generally, we sometimes expect to be able to explain the activity we can see on brain scans in terms of someone thinking or doing some task. However, most of the brain is probably engaged in activities of which we are completely unaware, and it is this complex background activity that we are detecting," Edwards said.

The findings were released in advance of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


(Copyright © 2010 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)

New moms grow bigger brains
 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
6% - 220 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
81% - 2798 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
12% - 420 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.96
-0.7%
Rand - Pound
19.94
-2.6%
Rand - Euro
17.60
-1.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.66
-0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.4%
Gold
1,659.71
-0.0%
Silver
18.82
-0.4%
Palladium
2,201.50
+2.4%
Platinum
868.00
+0.2%
Brent Crude
89.32
+3.4%
Top 40
56,921
-0.9%
All Share
63,264
-0.9%
Resource 10
59,793
+3.2%
Industrial 25
76,769
-2.3%
Financial 15
13,707
-2.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE