The Infancy of the Human Brain

Neuron. 2015 Oct 7;88(1):93-109. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.09.026.


The human infant brain is the only known machine able to master a natural language and develop explicit, symbolic, and communicable systems of knowledge that deliver rich representations of the external world. With the emergence of noninvasive brain imaging, we now have access to the unique neural machinery underlying these early accomplishments. After describing early cognitive capacities in the domains of language and number, we review recent findings that underline the strong continuity between human infants' and adults' neural architecture, with notably early hemispheric asymmetries and involvement of frontal areas. Studies of the strengths and limitations of early learning, and of brain dynamics in relation to regional maturational stages, promise to yield a better understanding of the sources of human cognitive achievements.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Language Development
  • Neuroimaging