Eyes wide shut: How newborn mammals dream the world they’re entering

An article from Yale University

For the last couple of weeks, I was looking for interesting developments in life sciences. Whether it is a collobıration between AI and humans, or how human behavior can be affected by data manipulation, or how microbes can affect human behavior ( that was my favorite so far, till I came across this article from Yale. )

As a newborn mammal opens its eyes for the first time, it can already make visual sense of the world around it. But how does this happen before they have experienced sight?

A new Yale study suggests that, in a sense, mammals dream about the world they are about to experience before they are even born.

Writing in the July 23 issue of Science, a team led by Michael Crair, the William Ziegler III Professor of Neuroscience and professor of ophthalmology and visual science, describes waves of activity that emanate from the neonatal retina in mice before their eyes ever open.

This activity disappears soon after birth and is replaced by a more mature network of neural transmissions of visual stimuli to the brain, where information is further encoded and stored.

“An eye-opening, mammals are capable of pretty sophisticated behavior,” said Crair, senior author of the study, who is also vice provost for research at Yale. “But how do the circuits form that allows us to perceive motion and navigate the world? It turns out we are born capable of many of these behaviors, at least in rudimentary form.”

In the study, Crair’s team, led by Yale graduate students Xinxin Ge and Kathy Zhang, explored the origins of these waves of activity. Imaging the brains of mice soon after birth but before their eyes opened, the Yale team found that these retinal waves flow in a pattern that mimics the activity that would occur if the animal were moving forward through the environment.

You can read the full article here.

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Soner Matt Haci

Soner Matt Haci

Writing about the future of health care and Real-estate technologies