As a newborn mammal opens its eyes for the first time, it can already make visual sense of the world around it. But how does this happen before they have experienced sight?
A new Yale study suggests that, in a sense, mammals dream about the world they are about to experience before they are even born.
Writing in the July 23 issue of Science, a team led by Michael Crair, the William Ziegler III Professor of Neuroscience and professor of ophthalmology and visual science, describes waves of activity that emanate from the neonatal retina in mice before their eyes ever open.
This activity disappears soon after birth and is replaced by a more mature network of neural transmissions of visual stimuli to the brain, where information is further encoded and stored.
“At eye opening, mammals are capable of pretty sophisticated behavior,” said Crair, senior author of the study, who is also vice…