Brain – What Babies Know About Themselves

Constance Holden
I will be discussing Perry Klass’s New York Times article that addresses how infants’ brains respond to touch and how that may indicate their understanding of their bodies, according to a research study performed by the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington.

For the full article, please click this link

We know everything, and yet so little about infants. There have been a million books written and YouTube videos recorded. Peter J. Marshall, chairman of the department of psychology at Temple University, and an author on this study reminds us that we know very little about how an infant’s brain responds and utilizing brain scanning can help us tell this story.

These researchers put stretch electrode caps containing EEG electrodes on the babies. These sensors can help to tell so many stories about what is going on in the brain of an infant as well as reveal to us what they want and how they react to pain, love and stimulation since they cannot tell us themselves.

This electrical activity in the EEG helps us show what part of the brain is active and is called the neural pathway. The test is called electroencephalogram (EEG) and it is a test used to find problems related to electrical activity of the brain. It responds to touch, the most sensitive of these areas being the foot, the hand and the upper lip.

For infants, EEGs are done to diagnose and monitor seizure disorders. It also can identify causes of other problems, such as sleep disorders and changes in behavior. They’re sometimes used to evaluate brain activity after a severe head injury or even for heart or lung problems. And now in recent years these studies – like this one – have been performed showing an infant a film where somebody else’s hand is being touched – and yet, the hand areas of their brains became active. Dr. Meltzoff explains that this shows the implications of the baby’s understanding stating, “Their hand is like your hand, their lips are like your lips; I am like you, you are like me.” This process in which the baby looks out at another person’s body and sees it as being “like me,” he said, could be an important foundation for social and cognitive development. Amazing!