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双语:胎儿或能想象未来

http://en.jybest.cn    环球时报  2010-11-05    

 

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  Planning ahead comes at birth

  Could a fetus lying in the womb be planning its future? The question comes from the discovery that brain areas thought to be involved in introspection and other aspects of consciousness are fully formed in newborn babies.

  Resting State Networks (RSNs), sometimes called the "dark energy of the brain", are patterns of low-frequency brain activity that are constantly active, even when a person is asleep. Activity in one RSN, the default mode network, drops when someone is engaged in a task, and it may be involved in introspective activities like envisioning the future – what some would call a facet of consciousness.

  Previous studies suggest that this network only fully develops during childhood, but David Edwards and colleagues at Imperial College London have now shown it is fully formed at birth.

  The finding came as the team investigated the relationship between RSNs and cognitive functions. They scanned the brains of 70 babies born up to three months early, whose development served as a proxy for fetal development. While rates of progression varied, RSNs for vision, touch, movement and decision-making were largely complete by 40 weeks, as was the default mode network.

  The fact his team found the default mode network in newborn babies suggests that "either being a fetus is a lot more fun than we remember", as we were able to lie there thinking about the future, or current understanding of what these networks do is mistaken, says Edwards.

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