Infants Can Identify Lullabies Played To Them While In the Womb, Study


Newborns can indentify lullabies played to them while in the womb, a University of Helsinki study says. Researchers found that the brains of the babies at four months reacted more strongly to a melody they heard right before their birth.

The researchers arrived at the conclusion after studying 24 women in the final trimester of their pregnancies. For five days a week, half of them were asked to play 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' to their babies in the womb. The researchers then played the same rhyme to the babies after they were born, while measuring their brain activity using electroencephalography.

They found that the babies who heard the rhyme while they were in the womb had a stronger electrical response in their brain to the song after birth, when compared to a control group of babies.

"Even though our earlier research indicated that foetuses could learn minor details of speech, we did not know how long they could retain the information," Eino Partanen, at the cognitive brain research unit of the University of Helsinki told Guardian. "These results show that babies are capable of learning at a very young age, and that the effects of the learning remain apparent in the brain for a long time."

This finding demonstrates that fetuses can identify and remember sounds from the outside world.

"This is the first study to track how long foetal memories remain in the brain. The results are significant, as studying the responses in the brain let us focus on the foundations of foetal memory. The early mechanisms of memory are currently unknown," Dr Minna Huotilainen, principal investigator told Business Standard.

The difference between the two groups was observed only when the original music was played, not with revised versions and changed notes.

The finding has been published in the journal PLoS One.

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