SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) — A study whose findings were released earlier this year showed that certain areas of a baby’s brain could hold clues as to the child’s future language abilities.

Researchers at the University of Washington, including study co-author Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the university’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, said that the brains of 1-year-old babies could indicate their skills in language later in life.

She said, in a release posted to the university’s website, “The brain of the baby holds an infinite number of secrets just waiting to be uncovered, and these discoveries will show us why infants learn languages like sponges, far surpassing our skills as adults.”

A newer study, conducted abroad, found that babies’ brains are also capable of consciously experiencing the world as young as 5 months old.

Researchers led by the Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique in Paris and the Technical University of Denmark’s own Sid Kouider found that infants only a few months old may react and behave with awareness, rather than out of reflex reactions.

Using adult patterns of conscious brain activity, scientists mapped the brains of 30 5-month-old children, 29 12-month-old children and 21 15-month-old children during an experiment. While seated in the lap of a parent and hooked to electrodes taking measurements, the children would watch a screen that occasionally flashed a photograph of a face on it, LiveScience learned.

Researchers found that the neural patterns in the babies’ brains essentially matched patterns seen in adults, though reaction times reportedly differed between age groups.

“[Results were] about four times slower, actually, in the younger infants,” Kouider noted, adding that unfinished brain development was likely the cause for the discrepancy.

According to LiveScience, the study was published in the journal Science.


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