Science: After Birth ...

You'll have to pardon the pun, but this Aug. 24 Radio Lab podcast is worth checking out.

I don't want to spoil too much, but a few fun things as spelled out by Charles Fernyhough:

  • Newborns may hear echoes everywhere - While the human auditory system is adept at filtering out echoes, it takes some time for that ability to develop. So babies very well may hear echoes from all around the room when you speak to them. In fact, everything around them may echo. The world is their silo. And the reverb's at 10.
  • Baby brains are extremely amalgamated - Scientists have used harmless brain caps to document this phenomenon, which basically says it takes a long time time for a baby's brain to appropriate cognitive functions. Show a baby a picture, for example, and sparks go off in the region of the brain normally reserved for smell. Does that mean babies might smell light? And hear color? Scientists aren't sure. But it does mean they are processing the world in a radically different way than adults.
  • Your baby isn't staring at you in rapturous devotion - You know those moments when your child stares at you and simply can't look away? A parent might be tempted to think their child is embracing their creators, but in reality, Junior is just really confused. Scientists call this "sticky fixation" and it's nothing more than a brain glitch. As newborns develop, two parts of their brains are battling for control -- the subcortical region (which is the lesser developed, primal area) and the cortical region (which is more highly evolved). Fixations develop when the baby's brain is locked between the two. The baby can't look away because his brain is pulling in two different directions. Depressing for parents, but I'm sure the little tyke loves you anyway.

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