Hemodynamic responses to the mother's face in infants by near-infrared spectroscopy

December 16, 2010

A Japanese research group led by Prof. Ryusuke Kakigi and Dr. Emi Nakato (National Institute for Physiological Sciences: NIPS) and Prof. Masami K Yamaguchi (Chuo University) found that there was the different hemodynamic response in the temporal cortex between infants' perceptions of their own mother and of female strangers. The presentation of mother's face elicited increased hemodynamic responses in the bilateral temporal cortex. This finding was reported in Early Human Development.

Recognition of the mother's face is important in the development of an infant's social communication. In this study, the research group investigated 7- and 8-month-old infants' brain activity during the perception of the mother's face and strangers' faces by near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS). NIRS is a non-invasive technique which estimates in the human brain and can assess changes in the concentration of oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb), deoxyhemoglobin (deoxy-Hb), and total (total-Hb) as an index of .

The finding was that the oxy- and the total-Hb concentrations in both the right and left temporal cortices were significantly increased for the mother's face. By contrast, significant increases in the oxy- and the total-Hb concentration were observed in the right temporal cortex for strangers' faces. The great activity in the right temporal cortex for faces irrespective of familiarity was consistent with our previous NIRS data which showed the right temporal cortex were involved in perception of faces in . It is noteworthy that the greater hemodynamic response in the left temporal cortex was observed only for mother's face. This increased hemodynamic response implies the specific mechanism for the processing of the mother's face in infants' brain.

The research group said, "Our findings imply that the probable presence of cortical specialization for the mother's face in infants may be firmly established by the age of 7 to 8 months. This is the first study to clarify the location of in infants related to the perception of their mother's face."

Explore further: A baby's smile is a natural high

Related Stories

A baby's smile is a natural high

July 7, 2008

The baby's smile that gladdens a mother's heart also lights up the reward centers of her brain, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers in a report that appears in the journal Pediatrics today.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.