Frontal lobe development influenced by cellular latecomers, study finds
Baby humans’ brain cells take awhile to get situated after birth, it turns out. A large group of young nerve cells moves into the frontal lobe during infants’ first few months of life, scientists report in the Oct. 7 Science. The mass migration might help explain how human babies’ brains remain so malleable for a window of time after birth.
Most of the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, move to their places in the frontal lobe before birth. Then, as babies interact with the world, the neurons link together into circuits controlling learning, memory and social behavior. Those circuits are highly malleable in early infancy: Connections between neurons are formed and severed repeatedly. The arrival of new neurons during the first few months of life could help account for the circuits’ prolonged flexibility in babies, says study coauthor Eric Huang, a