Mice Could Be 'Dreaming' About Moving in The World Even Before They Open Their Eyes

Human infants are not expected to make sense of the world or navigate it after birth.However, baby mice seem to be able to see the world through new eyes better than us.A new study has shown that newborn mice can 'dream' about their future even before they see the world around them.Researchers noticed spontaneous wavelets of retinal activity in the brains and eyes of mouse pups immediately after they were born.These patterns are remarkably similar to the ones that would happen in a mouse's brain if it had its eyes closed and moved forward in its environment.These newborns have never been in an environment like this before. Why?According to Michael Crair, a Yale University neuroscientist, "This dream-like activity in the early stages of development is evolutionary because it allows a mouse anticipate what it will feel after opening its eyes and can be ready to respond to environmental threats immediately."The researchers studied the role of starburst cells in early neonatal life to determine how crucial these dreams of forward motion were for the pups' vision development.The retina is home to Starburst amacrine cell, which are responsible for triggering directional responses in adult mice. They may also be involved in retinal development.Researchers used a daily dose toxin to block the functions of starburst cells. They then analysed the waves of mice's brains a few days later.The toxin caused significant disruption to the direction of the retinal waves in mice, effectively stopping the formation of forward-moving motion wave.Researchers exposed the retinal ganglion cells of mice to gabazine, an inhibitor drug that blocks photoreceptors from receiving visual information.The gabazine caused the waves to be created by blocking starburst cells.Both mice with starburst-blocked amacrine cells and mice with gabazine had their eyes finally open. They experienced a decrease in their ability to detect movement and directional response actions.The authors conclude that "Overall these results show that interfering in the direction bias of spontaneous retinal wave development compromises the generation of direction-selective reactions in the superior colliculus eye-opening," and highlight the importance of directional retinalwaves in the emergence functional response properties in mice.It seems that the basic circuits of the visual system of the mouse are created before the eyes even open. The retina generates its own activity without any stimulation.Crair says that these brain circuits are self-organized from birth and some early teaching has been done.It's like imagining what you will see before you open your eyes.Science published the study.