Navigation Links
Newborn infants learn while asleep; study may lead to later disability tests
Date:5/17/2010

GAINESVILLE, Fla. Sleeping newborns are better learners than thought, says a University of Florida researcher about a study that is the first of its type. The study could lead to identifying those at risk for developmental disorders such as autism and dyslexia.

"We found a basic form of learning in sleeping newborns, a type of learning that may not be seen in sleeping adults," said Dana Byrd, a research affiliate in psychology at UF who collaborated with a team of scientists.

The findings give valuable information about how it is that newborns are able to learn so quickly from the world, when they sleep for 16 to 18 hours a day, Byrd said. "Sleeping newborns are better learners, better 'data sponges' than we knew," she said.

In order to understand how newborns learn while in their most frequent state, Byrd and her colleagues tested the learning abilities of sleeping newborns by repeating tones that were followed by a gentle puff of air to the eyelids. After about 20 minutes, 24 of the 26 babies squeezed their eyelids together when the tone was sounded without the puff of air.

"This methodology opens up research areas into potentially detecting high risk populations, those who show abnormalities in the neural systems underlying this form of learning," she said. "These would include siblings of individuals with autism and siblings of those with dyslexia."

The research team's paper, published online this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes the results of their experiment with the 1- or 2-day-old infants, comparing them with a control group using EEG and video recordings. The brain waves of the 24 infants were found to change, providing a neural measurement of memory updating.

"While past studies find this type of learning can occur in infants who are awake, this is the first study to document it in their most frequent state, while they are asleep," Byrd said. "Since newborns sleep so much of the time, it is important that they not only take in information but use the information in such a way to respond appropriately."

Not only did the newborns show they can learn to give this reflex in response to the simple tone, but they gave the response at the right time, she said.

Learned eyelid movement reflects the normal functioning of the circuitry in the cerebellum, a neural structure at the base of the brain. This study's method potentially offers a unique non-invasive tool for early identification of infants with atypical cerebellar structure, who are potentially at risk for a range of developmental disorders, including autism and dyslexia, she said.

The capacity of infants to learn during sleep contrasts with some researchers' stance that learning new material does not take place in sleeping adults, Byrd said.

The immature nature of sleep patterns in infants could help explain why, she said.

"Newborn infants' sleep patterns are quite different than those of older children or adults in that they show more active sleep where heart and breathing rates are very changeable," she said. "It may be this sleep state is more amenable to experiencing the world in a way that facilitates learning."

Another factor is that infants' brains have greater neural plasticity, which is the ability for the neural connections to be changed, Byrd said. "Newborns may be very adaptive to learning in general simply because their brains have increased plasticity, increased propensity to be changed by experience," she said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dana Byrd
byrd@ufl.edu
352-339-5155
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Dying: Millions of women in childbirth, newborns and young children
2. Expectant Moms Exercise Keeps Newborns Birth Weight Down
3. New Research Shows 'Kangaroo Mother Care' Reduces Newborn Deaths More than 50 Percent
4. Benefits outweigh risks associated with newborn screening for disorder
5. Save the Children Launches Radio Outreach Program in Haiti to Promote Newborn, Infant Health
6. Newborns of Smokers Have Abnormal Blood Pressure
7. Immune Deficiency Foundation Praises ACHDNC Recommendation for SCID Screening in Newborns
8. Sugar Before Shots Helps Infants Cope
9. African-American infants at increased risk from tobacco smoke exposure
10. Sleep-Related Death Rate Higher Among Black Infants
11. Infants Sensitivity to Voices May Develop by 7 Months
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/13/2016)... C. (PRWEB) , ... February 13, 2016 , ... Hidden Cypress in Sun City is ... area of facial plastic surgery. Dr. Frederick Weniger will be hosting this educational ... at this event, and there will be special pricing on offers. In addition, prizes will ...
(Date:2/13/2016)... FL (PRWEB) , ... February 13, 2016 , ... The ... environmental impact of American businesses. , The increasingly modern world of instantaneous consumption ... often on non-renewable energy sources such as oil and coal, which pollutes our air, ...
(Date:2/13/2016)... ... 2016 , ... DDi , a Makro company, makes ... its expertise in eClinical Solutions. DDi has built its solution competency with a ... global clients. DDi provides smarter technology for Clinical Development, Regulatory and Enterprise domains ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... The Lymphoma Research ... lymphoma research and serving the lymphoma community through a comprehensive series of education ... Florida’s philanthropic community at its 10th anniversary Fashion Luncheon on Monday, February 8, ...
(Date:2/12/2016)... ... February 12, 2016 , ... Coco Libre, the maker ... Red Carpet Events LA GRAMMY’s Style Lounge Event. Coco Libre will offer musicians and ... hydrated before the big event. The invitation-only gifting suite, held this year at the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/11/2016)... -- - Cardiac Marker Diagnostic Testing ... Cancer Therapy. - European Point of Care Diagnostic ... - Key Diagnostic Testing Markets. - Molecular Diagnostics ... Testing. - Molecular Diagnostics in Infectious Disease Testing. ... Products World Markets. - Point of Care Diagnostic ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... Feb. 11, 2016 Stem cells are primitive ... by self-renewal and the capacity to differentiate into mature ... discovery, as the first mouse embryonic stem cells were ... until 1995 that the first culturing of embryonic stem ... were not produced until 2006 As a result of ...
(Date:2/11/2016)... 11, 2016 Laboratory glassware and ... laboratories. These may range from microscope slides to large ... made from borosilicate glass because of its low weight ... other hand, started gaining popularity over the past decade ... replace glass with plastic in several applications due to ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: