Fetuses can start grasping new concepts during the 34th week of pregnancy, says a new research. The new research contradicts earlier studies that showed children begin learning right after they are born.
The study conducted by researchers at the University of Florida College of Nursing adds that a mom's voice is all that babies really need to hear.
Advertisement"The mother's voice is the predominant source of sensory stimulation in the developing fetus," said Charlene Krueger, nursing researcher and associate professor of the University.
Hence, there is no need to expose your babies in the womb to classical music and other forms of auditory stimulation.
This research emphasizes just how sophisticated the third trimester fetus really is and states that a mother's voice is involved in the growth of early learning and memory capabilities.
"This could potentially influence how we approach the care and stimulation of the preterm infant," Charlene Krueger added.
For the research, scientists examined 32 pregnant women who were native English speakers. The women were asked to recite a 15-second rhyme three times, twice a day from the 28th week to the 34th.
Researchers looked for any signs of learning, particularly during the 28th, 32th, 33th and 43th weeks of pregnancy by evaluating the baby's heart rate while they listened to a recording of the rhyme recited by a female stranger.
A slowing heart rate would be a sign of learning, the researchers said.
Scientists also performed the test on a second group of fetuses that heard a different rhyme that was also recorded with a female stranger's voice.
Findings from the experiments showed that by the 34th week, the fetuses that listened to the same rhyme as their mothers had a slightly slower heart rate than the control group, which was visible from the 34th week up to the 38th.
Moreover, by the 38th week, babies in wombs that heard the similar rhyme that was recited by a female stranger had a deeper and more sustained slowing heart rate.
Also, those who heard to a different rhyme received by a stranger's voice had a quicker heart rate.
This study helps understand more about how early a fetus could learn a passage of speech and whether the passage could be recollected weeks later even without daily exposure to it.
This could have implications to those preterm infants who are born before 37 weeks and the impact an intervention such as their mother's voice may have on influencing better results in this high-risk population.
The study was published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development