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."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Neuro chip records brain cell activity

October 26, 2016

Brain functions are controlled by millions of brain cells. However, in order to understand how the brain controls functions, such as simple reflexes or learning and memory, we must be able to record the activity of large ...

Can a brain-computer interface convert your thoughts to text?

October 25, 2016

Ever wonder what it would be like if a device could decode your thoughts into actual speech or written words? While this might enhance the capabilities of already existing speech interfaces with devices, it could be a potential ...

The current state of psychobiotics

October 25, 2016

Now that we know that gut bacteria can speak to the brain—in ways that affect our mood, our appetite, and even our circadian rhythms—the next challenge for scientists is to control this communication. The science of psychobiotics, ...

After blindness, the adult brain can learn to see again

October 25, 2016

More than 40 million people worldwide are blind, and many of them reach this condition after many years of slow and progressive retinal degeneration. The development of sophisticated prostheses or new light-responsive elements, ...


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.