The CIMeC BabyLab and Neonatal Neuroimaging Unit study infant cognition since the first hours of life and through infancy.
Among neuroscientists and developmental psychologists, it has always been discussed whether our brain/mind structure relies more on the phylogenetic contribution of human kind evolution or on the specific influence of the life experiences we make. To find an answer is no easy: we know that our brain develops slowly and it shows great plasticity properties, however it has also been proved that there are some advanced cognitive abilities that are present since birth. Indeed there are shreds of evidence proving that infants show behaviors comparable to adults ones (for example fast and automatic face perception).
In addition to understanding what these competencies are and how they develop over time, one of the biggest challenges is to understand whether these cognitive functions rely on the same neural networks in adults and infants. Indeed nowadays the origin of the functional specialization of the brain is still unknown: is it econded in our genes or does it emerge over time in relation to the experience we make?
In our lab, we try to answer these questions by investigating the infants' brains with both behavioral and neuroimaging studies.