Neuroscience News

Infants’ visual system controlled by different area from adults’ – researchers

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From “Why Evolutionarily Ancient Brain Areas Are Important” (ScienceDaily, Nov. 30, 2011), we learn:

Different brain structures control eye reflexes in the course of life RUB scientists report in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Studies of the visual systems of monkeys show that

Structures in the midbrain that developed early in evolution can be responsible for functions in newborns which in adults are taken over by the cerebral cortex.

To control sensorimotor functions (e.g. eye movements), the adult brain is equipped with different areas in the neocortex, the evolutionarily youngest part of the cerebrum. “This raises the question, why older subcortical structures in the brain have not lost the functions that can also be controlled by the neocortex” says Hoffmann. The neocortex of primates is, however, not fully functional shortly after birth and therefore cannot control the optokinetic nystagmus. “This is most probably also the case with people” says Distler-Hoffmann. Nevertheless, this reflex works directly after birth.

Probably. Infants just need something that works; they don’t need a full kit.

Imagine random evolution organizing a system in as much detail as that …

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