Researchers from Harvard Medical School (HMS) are shedding light on how the visual systems of primates evolved, finding a primitive "map" for each different sense is already present in the brains of primates just a few days after birth and it appears to get gradually filled in with age and experience.
Researchers reportedly studied the brain activity of four macaques -- a genus of monkeys -- as young as 10 days old. They reportedly found even when asleep, multiple parts of the animals' visual systems would turn on in conjunction with each other, suggesting a functional organization that connects all the areas.
Following the same monkeys over the next several years, researchers reportedly found as the animals matured and were more awake to view images, the "maps" gradually filled in and became more sophisticated.
Researchers reportedly believe their findings may help explain some features of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, which often involve avoidance of certain visual stimuli, and highlight the importance of correcting visual deficits in infants as early as possible to ensure normal brain development.
The study was recently published in the journal eLife.
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Source: Harvard Medical School