Is it possible to alter the development of a child’s brain by modifying the intensity of sound that reaches the child through their mother’s belly or by changing the type of music the mother listens to during her pregnancy?
That’s right men, the next time you are rude to your pregnant wives remember that there is someone who is making note of everything you say! Babies are able to listen to sounds that pass through their mother’s belly while they are in utero. Not only is a fetus able to hear sounds from the outside world, but also make note of what they heard and understand them just like a baby that has already been born. Research proves that babies are able to retain the memories of particular sounds that they heard while in utero.
A group of researchers from the University of Helsinki in Finland, recently carried out a study that has opened a whole new world of scientific possibilities. The study was carried out on a group of mothers that were exposed to certain sounds while they were pregnant. Once they had given birth to their little ones, they were recalled to the facility where they were made to listen to the same sounds only this time with their children by their side rather than inside their bellies. The results shocked the researchers as the children’s minds reacted to the same sounds while they were inside their mother’s belly.
“If we know better how language develops very early, we may one day be able to develop interventions for babies with abnormal development”, said the lead author of the research paper published by the University of Helsinki. Researchers played certain sounds such as ‘tatata’ or ‘tatota’ in several ways using various pitches from the 29th week of the mother’s pregnancy up until the baby was born. When these babies were brought back to listen to the same sounds that were played to them while they were in utero, the waves generated by these sounds caused a strong reaction in their brains as compared to other babies who had not been exposed to such sounds while in utero.
Although this is a single study conducted on a very small group of mothers, it goes without saying that babies are able to comprehend the sounds they hear through their mother’s belly while in utero. This raises several questions such as: Is it possible to start developing a child’s language while it is still inside it’s mother’s womb? Does hearing certain sounds have a positive or negative effect on the development of a child’s brain? Can mental illnesses such as schizophrenia be avoided by exposing the fetus to certain sounds?
Several studies have already been carried out using sound waves on the development of plants: two seeds from the same parent plant are kept in different rooms and given access to the same amount of sunlight, water, air and soil type. The only difference is that music is played for an hour everyday to one plant and not to the other. Dr. TC Singh, head of the botany department at India’s Annamalai University, carried out a similar experiment on several plants in the year 1962. He found that “balsam plants grew at a rate that accelerated by 20% in height and 72% in biomass when exposed to music.”
If music can have a positive growth on plants that cannot even hear sounds but simply feel the vibrations created by the waves, we can only imagine the impact that sounds can have on the development on a child’s brain.