A newborn baby’s brain connections drew interest from University of Iowa (UI) researchers who discovered a new mode of communication between distant brain regions – the hippocampus and an area known as the red nucleus. As it happens, baby’s sleep is key to this connection. When two brain areas communicate, they often sychronize. In experiments with infant rats, the researchers showed for the first time that the hippocampus oscillates in lockstep with the red nucleus almost exclusively during REM (active) sleep. In human newborns, eight hours of every day is occupied by REM sleep alone. And because rat brains and human brains have the same basic structure, UI researchers believe the same communication, between the same regions, is likely occurring in human infants. Because the red nucleus, a brain stem structure, plays an important role in motor control, they also suspect that disruptions in linkage with the hippocampus may contribute to the motor-control problems that often accompany disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.