Newborns' Brains Incapable of Processing Emotions First Few Months

This gives a whole new meaning to emotionally immature.
Deniz Yildiran
The photo credit line may appear like thisdeng qiufeng/iStock

An adult's brain, one of the most complex organs in our body, is different from a baby's not only in size and the capability of learning pace but also in different functions, in a way that scientists hadn't expected to be. 

The study conducted by a group of researchers from Ohio State University has concluded that humans are not born with the ability to attach emotions to things or events they see or hear but develop that connection later in the brain. 

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“It’s a finding we didn’t really expect. We thought these connections might be mature right from birth,” indicated Zeynep Saygin, who is the co-author of the study and a core faculty member of Ohio State’s Chronic Brain Injury Program.

Researchers examined 40 adults' fMRI brain scans and 40 of newborns, who are less than a week old, to compare the differences between them. 

The adults have seemingly developed the connection stronger than babies, which allows them to experience fear out of something we are scared of, or love from seeing someone we love.

However, babies form the connection in a few months to experience higher levels of emotions, Saygin added. 

They examined the patterns seen out of brain signals when the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for experiencing emotions, and the visual cortex, basically the visual processor, connected. 

“Seeing this pattern for both visual and auditory regions was affirming, as it demonstrates that the amygdala connects more with areas that process complex stimuli – things that would warrant an emotional response - and not just to areas that are closer in proximity to the amygdala,” said Hansen, lead author of the study.

The research proves quite crucial, as the amygdala plays an important role in many disorders occurring in early life such as autism and anxiety. 

“By learning about the course of its development, we should be able to say what is typical and how it may go awry. That may lead us to new diagnostic and treatment interventions.” Saygin explained.

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