In August 2013, researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland released the results of a study, reinforcing the belief that babies can hear while in their mothers’ womb. NBC News correspondent Meghan Holohan writes about the research conducted on 33 expecting mothers, half of whom listened to a recording of made up words, while the other half did not.
“THE MOMS AND BABIES HEARD THE NONSENSE WORDS ABOUT 50 TO 71 TIMES. FOLLOWING BIRTH, THE RESEARCHERS TESTED THE ALL 33 BABIES FOR NORMAL HEARING AND THEN PERFORMED AN EEG (ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAPH) BRAIN SCAN TO SEE IF THE NEWBORNS RESPONDED DIFFERENTLY TO THE MADE-UP WORDS AND DIFFERENT PITCHES.
BABIES WHO LISTENED TO THE CD IN UTERO RECOGNIZED THE MADE-UP WORDS AND NOTICED THE PITCH CHANGES, WHICH THE INFANTS WHO DID NOT HEAR THE CD DID NOT, THE RESEARCHERS FOUND. THEY COULD TELL BECAUSE THEIR BRAIN ACTIVITY PICKED UP WHEN THOSE WORDS WERE PLAYED, WHILE BABIES WHO DIDN’T HEAR THE CD IN THE WOMB DID NOT REACT AS MUCH.”
The findings suggest that babies who are exposed to consistent prenatal music while in the womb stand a better chance of developing their language skills as they develop. Other studies have also identified the kind of music that works best both for adults and babies, including pre-natal ones. After all, music can affect the human mind in a variety of ways, sometimes defying logic.
Kathy Henderson, author of Hush, Baby, Hush, a children’s book on lullabies, says lullabies also have a calming effect on adults. The brain favors soft, harmonious music, especially one that starts slowly, rises in tempo at the middle, and finishes softly or slowly again. This type of harmony induces the feeling of comfort and compassion that the baby experiences from the mother’s womb.
Additionally, a study by Kawakami et al. (2013) revealed that listening to sad, somber music can actually be used to improve mood, mainly because this type of music induces a mix of positive and negative emotions for cathartic effect. That said, music’s effects on pre-natal babies could be varied as well, highlighting the need to identify and choose the right kind of music to expose these babies to.
Pre-natal babies’ abilities to recognize, discriminate, and recall various sounds, however, can go beyond their early exposure to music. A full audio-learning program for pre-natal infants, like that designed by BabyPlus, offer their own enriching benefits. An effective prenatal sound system can provide good foundation for a baby’s future cognitive skills and behavior. As the baby learns to distinguish a variety of sounds while in the womb, it also starts to learn the basics of communication and language.
(Source: Unborn babies are hearing you, loud and clear, Today, August 26, 2013)
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