Wiring that narrows the lantern

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A note for Lesson no. 3, "Little Brains Wire Themselves to Their World," in Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Some context from page 54‌ is:

They still lack the wiring that narrows their lantern into a spotlight.

A human newborn's brain contains all of the major neural pathways that are found in the adult brain, but they are not fully functional (i.e., axons are not fully myelinated, synapses and dendrites are not tuned, etc.). The wiring that narrows a lantern of attention into a spotlight, allowing someone to selectively pay attention to some things while ignoring others, develops through childhood and adolescence and into early adulthood.[1][2][3][4][5] The structural features of the brain that control attention develop into young adulthood, as do the functional features (the various ways in which the structural features — the assemblies of neurons — work together to control attention.[6]


  1. Grayson, David S., and Damien A. Fair. 2017 "Development of Large-Scale Functional Networks From Birth to Adulthood: A Guide to the Neuroimaging Literature." Neuroimage 160: 15–31.
  2. Baum, Graham L., Rastko Ciric, David R. Roalf, Richard F. Betzel, Tyler M. Moore, Russell T. Shinohara, Ari E. Kahn et al. 2017. "Modular Segregation of Structural Brain Networks Supports the Development of Executive Function in Youth." Current Biology 27 (11): 1561–1572.
  3. Fair, Damien A., Alexander L. Cohen, Jonathan D. Power, Nico UF Dosenbach, Jessica A. Church, Francis M. Miezin, Bradley L. Schlaggar, and Steven E. Petersen. 2009. "Functional Brain Networks Develop From a 'Local To Distributed' Organization." PLoS Computational Biology 5 (5): e1000381.
  4. Posner, Michael I., Mary K. Rothbart, and Pascale Voelker. 2016. "Developing Brain Networks of Attention." Current Opinion in Pediatrics 28 (6): 720.
  5. Rueda, M. Rosario, Jin Fan, Bruce D. McCandliss, Jessica D. Halparin, Dana B. Gruber, Lisha Pappert Lercari, and Michael I. Posner. 2004. "Development of Attentional Networks in Childhood." Neuropsychologia 42 (8): 1029–1040.
  6. Stoecklein, Sophia, Anne Hilgendorff, Meiling Li, Kai Förster, Andreas W. Flemmer, Franziska Galiè, Stephan Wunderlich et al. 2020. "Variable Functional Connectivity Architecture of the Preterm Human Brain: Impact of Developmental Cortical Expansion and Maturation." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 117 (2): 1201–1206.