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For everyone who’s looked into an infant’s sparkling eyes and wondered what goes on in its little fuzzy head, there’s now an answer. New research shows that babies display glimmers of consciousness and memory as early as 5 months old.
Studies on adults show a particular pattern of brain activity: When your senses detect something, such as a moving object, the vision center of your brain activates, even if the object goes by too fast for you to notice. But if the object remains in your visual field for long enough, the signal travels from the back of the brain to the prefrontal cortex, which holds the image in your mind long enough for you to notice. Scientists see a spike in brain activity when the senses pick something up, and another signal, the “late slow wave,” when the prefrontal cortex gets the message. The whole process takes less than one-third of a second.
The team was surprised to see that the 5-month-olds also showed a late slow wave, although it was weaker and more drawn out than in the older babies. Kouider speculates that the late slow wave may be present in babies as young as 2 months.
This late slow wave may indicate conscious thought, Kouider and colleagues report online today in Science. The wave, feedback from the prefrontal cortex, suggests that the image is stored briefly in the baby’s temporary “working memory.” And consciousness, Kouider says, is composed of working memory.
There are researchers who argue that dreams originate as early as in the mother’s womb, whereas others posit that they first occur when a child’s brain becomes more developed, around five to seven years old.
When Do Babies Become Conscious?
Originally posted by Unity_99
I believe that meant when she had a term for it and knew what it meant, but up until then had always experienced it without being able to put into words.
Originally posted by watchitburn
Also, what kind of impact might this have on the abortion debate?
If it can be proven that infants are "unaware" until two months of age?
What are your thoughts?