Fundamental Research Division
The DRF at the CEA assemble approximately 6,000 scientists since January 2016.
Scientific result | Cognition | Brain
Researchers from the Institut Frédéric-Joliot have shown that during the first months of life, babies orientate themselves towards faces and quickly learn to recognize them, but only using their right hemispheres.
For this, scientists from the Institut Frédéric-Joliot (CEA), Inserm and CNRS recorded the electrical brain activity of 40 babies aged 1 to 6 months. These babies were presented with different faces in the right and left fields of vision while their eyes were attracted to the center. From time to time a new face was presented, either on the right or on the left. The babies' brains, or more precisely their right hemispheres, only discriminated faces presented in their left fields of vision. Using magnetic resonance imaging, the researchers also showed that the speed of brain responses increased with the maturation of the nerve fibers connecting the visual regions of the two hemispheres. Nevertheless, this maturation is still not sufficiently effective so that the right hemisphere can take over from the "incompetent" left hemisphere in order to recognize faces presented on the right.
These results highlight important functional differences between the cerebral hemispheres that should be established from birth, in principle. They underscore the extreme cerebral organization of the human baby in the first months of life, which is far removed from the notion of a piece of clay shaped by the environment.
Right but not left hemispheric discrimination of faces in infancy | nature human behaviour
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.