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  • July 20, 2015

    Babies' expectations may help brain development

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

    A series of experiments with infants 5 to 7 months old 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 researchers from the University of Rochester and the University of South Carolina.

    That type of complex neural processing was once thought to happen only in adults—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, who conducted the study at the University of Rochester's Baby Lab while a research associate with Richard Aslin in the department of brain and cognitive sciences.

    For more information, visit the University of Rochester Newscenter.