How to get a better understanding of what makes babies special
A team of researchers has released a new report which suggests that the brains of babies are made up of different parts of the brain.
In particular, it suggests that different areas of the cerebral cortex are involved in different cognitive functions, and that these different parts can be divided into three main types.
The research team also analysed brain scans from babies who had been born alive and compared them with those who had died.
It found that babies born alive have larger volumes of the frontal lobe, a region of the human brain responsible for speech, language and memory, compared with those born dead.
“Brain imaging studies of human infants have found that there are several distinct areas of brain that are involved with language, language processing, and language-related tasks,” said Dr Chris Fennell from the Institute of Neurology at the University of Liverpool.
“However, we have now identified a group of brain regions that is particularly important for cognitive functions.”
Dr Fennells team has used MRI scanners to analyse the brain activity of healthy infants.
They used data from the MRI scans of live babies to calculate how many different areas in the cerebral cortices were being used.
“In other words, we used this information to figure out what areas of your brain are responsible for different cognitive tasks,” Dr Fenners team said.
“The analysis revealed that there were different areas where your brain processes speech, for example, and different areas that are engaged in language processing.”
Researchers say the finding is important because it shows that there is a different way of thinking about how brain areas interact.
“Our results suggest that there may be three types of brain activity: there are areas where there is language, there are other areas where you process language and you use the language processing area, and then there are also areas that process motor skills,” said lead author Dr Chris Aarons from the University College London.
“For example, when you think about how your body works, the brain processes and moves its own muscles, and this activity is thought to be associated with movement.”
In a brain scan, you can see that the frontal cortex is a big area, but when you look at a brain image, it is only about 5% of the area that is involved in language.
“This research shows that it’s not just one area that you can study, but it’s also the whole brain that is responsible for this language processing.”
“It’s not a very useful measure of the volume, but our analysis shows that you’re actually going to see differences in the size of this grey matter when you have different babies.””
We believe that brain activity can be measured by measuring the volume of a specific area, called the grey matter, which is the volume that surrounds the brain,” said senior author Professor John Mackenzie from the Department of Neurological and Psychiatric Sciences at University College, London.
“It’s not a very useful measure of the volume, but our analysis shows that you’re actually going to see differences in the size of this grey matter when you have different babies.”
A large part of the reason for this is that it is a very different brain function than what is going on in our own brains.
It’s not the same thing.
We have the same neurons, but there are different brain areas involved.
“Dr Aaronson and his team will now investigate how the activity of these areas changes over time.
Read more about the study here