An infant can recognize a lullaby heard in the womb for several months after birth, potentially supporting later speech development.
In an article posted on the sciencedaily.com website, new research at the University of Helsinki shows that an infant can recognize a lullaby heard in the womb for several months after birth. The article states that this may potentially support later speech development. These results show that fetuses, while in the womb, can recognize and remember sounds from the outside world.
(Consider Psalm 51:5-6 - "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place." - What do we know at birth?)
The research done focused on 24 women during the final trimester of their pregnancies. Half of the women played the melody of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to their fetuses five days a week for the final stages of their pregnancies. After the babies were born, tests showed that the brains of the babies who heard the melody in utero reacted more strongly to the familiar melody, both immediately and four months after birth, when compared with the control group.
"Even though our earlier research indicated that fetuses could learn minor details of speech, we did not know how long they could retain the information. 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," explains Eino Partanen, who is currently finishing his dissertation at the Cognitive Brain Research Unit.
(Remember - The baby in the womb has brain waves long before they are born and experience REM sleep indicating that they dream. What might they be dreaming about? How much do we really understand at birth?)
Dr. Minna Huotilainen, principal investigator in the research states, "This is the first study to track how long fetal memories remain in the brain. The results are significant, as studying the responses in the brain let us focus on the foundations of fetal memory. The early mechanisms of memory are currently unknown".
These researchers believe that song and speech are beneficial for the fetus in terms of speech development. According on current understanding, the processing of singing and speech in babies’ brains are partially based on shared mechanisms, and so hearing a song can support a baby's speech development.
The study was published by the American scientific journal PLoS ONE. The research was conducted at the Academy of Finland's Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research as well as the Cognitive Brain Research Unit at the University of Helsinki Institute of Behavioural Sciences.