Babies spend most of their time sleeping. New technologies are beginning to reveal why

Babies spend most of their time sleeping. New technologies are beginning to reveal why

Babies spend most of their time sleeping. New technologies are beginning to reveal why

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Later, when Austin and his team analyzed snapshots of the recordings, they noticed differences in the brain during active and quiet sleep. During active sleep, when babies were more agitated, brain regions in the left and right hemispheres seemed to activate at the same time, in the same way. This suggests that new and long connections are forming throughout the brain, Austin says. During quiet sleep, it seems that shorter connections form in brain regions.


It’s unclear why this might be happening, but Austin has a theory. He thinks active sleep is more important for preparing the brain to build a larger conscious experience – to recognize someone else as a person rather than a series of blotches and blotches of color and texture, for example. example. Various regions of the brain must work together to achieve this.

The shorter connections made during quiet sleep likely fine-tune the functioning of individual brain regions, says Austin: “In active sleep you build an image, and in quiet sleep [you’re] polish things up. »

The more we know about how the brains of healthy newborns work, the better we are at helping babies born prematurely or who suffer brain damage early in life. Austin also hopes to learn more about what each phase of sleep might do for the brain. Once we have a better understanding of what the brain does, we may be able to figure out when it’s safest to wake the baby to feed it, for example.

Austin envisions some sort of traffic light system that could be placed near a sleeping baby. A green light can signal that the baby is in an intermediate sleep state and can be woken up. A red light, on the other hand, could indicate that it is best to let the baby sleep because the brain is in the middle of an important process.

I tried to do something similar with my own children. A cloud-shaped toy in their room turns green and plays a song when it’s sure to wake mom. The cloud is ignored. Unfortunately, once their brain is ready for awakening, they don’t mind that mine isn’t.

Learn more about the Tech Review archives:

“This kid is screaming like crazy. Mom is nervous. It’s all stressful. » Rachel Fritts explores how difficult it is to study babies’ brains in fMRI scanners in this article from last year.

A fetus can start hearing muffled sounds from 20 weeks gestation. The poor quality of these sounds could be essential for early brain development, writes Anne Trafton.


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