A study funded by the National Institutes of Health – using an electro-encephalogram, a machine that records the brain’s electrical activity – shows newborn infants are capable of a simple form of learning while they’re asleep. The finding may one day lead to a test that can identify infants at risk for developmental disorders.
The NIH National Institute of Child Health and Human Development sponsors research on development, before and after birth.
The machine measured the babies brain’s electrical activity while a video camera recorded each baby’s facial expressions, as researchers played a tone, as a machine blew a puff of air at each sleeping infant’s eyelids. The electroencephalogram detected changes in brain wave activity that occurred simultaneously with the tone, showing the infants had learned to associate the tone with the puff of air.