How newborn mammals dream of the world they are in

Credit: Martha Sexton / Public Domain

When a newborn mammal first opens its eyes, it already has a visual understanding of the world around it. But how does this happen before they experience sight?

Research at the new Yale University suggests, in a sense, that mammals dream of a world they are trying to experience before they are born.

Write in the July 23 issue of Science, William Ziegler III A team led by Professor of Neuroscience and Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Michael Claire, describes a wave of activity that emanates from the retina of a newborn mouse before the eyes open.

This activity disappears shortly after birth and replaces a more mature network of neurotransmission of visual stimuli to the brain, where information is further encoded and stored.

“When you’re eye-opening, mammals can behave quite sophisticatedly,” said Claire, senior author of the study, who is also the Vice President of Research at Yale University. ?? At least in a rudimentary way, we have found that we are born to be able to do many of these actions. “

In this study, a team of Crair, led by Yale University graduate students Xinxin Ge and Kathy Zhang, investigated the origin of these waves of activity. Imaging the mouse brain shortly after birth and before the eyes open, a team at Yale University found that these retinal waves flow in a pattern that mimics the activity that occurs when an animal is advancing the environment. Did.

“This early dreamlike activity makes evolutionary sense because it predicts what the mouse will experience after opening its eyes and is ready to react immediately. Environmental threat“Claire said.

Going further, the Yale team also investigated cells and circuits involved in the propagation of retinal waves that mimic the forward movements of newborn mice. They found that blocking the function of starburst macrin cells, the cells of the retina that release neurotransmitters, prevents waves from flowing in a direction that mimics forward movement. This in turn impairs the development of the mouse’s ability to respond to postnatal visual movements.

Interestingly, within the adult retina of the mouse, these same cells play an important role in more sophisticated motion detection circuits that enable them to respond to environmental cues.

Of course, mice differ from humans in their ability to navigate the environment quickly after birth. However, human babies can also instantly detect objects and identify movements such as fingers moving across the field of view. This suggests that the visual system is also prepared before birth.

“These brain circuits are self-organizing in birth “Some of the early education has already been completed, like dreaming of what you can see before you open your eyes,” Claire said.

Even before the eyes open, the brain opens the way for binocular vision

For more information:
X. Ge et al. , “Retinal waves facilitate the detection of visual movement by simulating future optical flow.” Science (2021).… 1126 / science.abd0830

Provided by
Yale University

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How newborn mammals dream of the world they are in

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