Before a newborn mammal opens its eyes, its retinal waves are already active, and its brain is already anticipating its environment. By the time that this newborn mammal opens its eyes, it has already made visual sense of the world, and is “prepared to respond immediately to environmental threats.” At least this is true for mice, as this study led by graduate students from Yale only focused on these mammals.
"At eye opening, mammals are capable of pretty sophisticated behavior," said Crair, senior author of the study, who is also vice provost for research at Yale." But how do the circuits form that allow us to perceive motion and navigate the world? It turns out we are born capable of many of these behaviors, at least in rudimentary form."
Mice, of course, differ from humans in their ability to quickly navigate their environment soon after birth. However, human babies are also able to immediately detect objects and identify motion, such as a finger moving across their field of vision, suggesting that their visual system was also primed before birth.
(Image Credit: Rama/ Wikimedia Commons)