Singing to the Womb

Singing in the WombThis Grandma just finished reading about the last issue of the moment, that pregnant women did not like people who thought they could just rub their belly, when I saw the next “pregnant” issue of the moment.  “Study Finds Newborns Recall Songs Played to Them in the Womb,” by Meeri Kim, in the Miami Herald November 3, 2013.

She reports that a new study was published on line in the journal PLOS One.  I had to see if this website is for real.  This is an actual one line journal.  Studies are put on it.  Who knows how good they are.  I wonder why they are not in a medical journal!  However, the article in the newspaper and the end discussion in the actual study seemed different to me.  Of course, the article was easier to read.  It started, “[b]abies who had a lullaby played to them regularly while still in the womb recognized the song months after birth….”  It seems that the researchers  said that the song was “familiar” to the baby for a while after birth because of brain responses seen on an EKG.

The end discussion in the actual study was a little bit of good and and a little bit of bad:

Taken together, our results show that prenatal exposure to music can have long-term plastic effects on the developing brain and enhance neural responsiveness to the sounds used in the prenatal training, an effect previously only demonstrated in animal models [41]. Furthermore, we found that these plastic changes are long lasting, as the effect of prenatal exposure persists for at least four months without any additional stimulation. These findings have several practical implications. First, since the prenatal auditory environment modulates the neural responsiveness of fetuses, it seems plausible that the adverse prenatal sound environment may also have long-lasting detrimental effects [8]. Such environments may be, for example, noisy workplaces and, in case of preterm infants, neonatal intensive care units. Furthermore, as prenatal exposure still affected the ERP responses months after birth, additional fetal exposure to structured sound environments might be beneficial for supporting the auditory processing of, for example, infants at risk for dyslexia in whom basic auditory processing was shown to be impaired (e.g., [42]). Such effects have previously been demonstrated in rat pups, showing benefits of structured sound environments during pregnancy for cortical organization and synaptogenesis [41], and enhancing their spatial learning ability for up to 21 days after birth [43]. However, further studies are needed to shed light on the specific mechanisms of enhanced neural responsiveness induced by the prenatal stimulation, and to determine whether such stimulation could be used to alleviate the deficits in auditory processing.

If you are interested, here is the link to the study.

It seems that a potential good effect does not last as long as a potential bad effect?  I can think of some political arguments that can be made about this study and how it is interpreted.

Soon we will be reading  that pregnant women do not like people who think they could just sing to the belly every day at work. . . .Of course, that would not mean the Grandma-To-Be who now comes over every day, since the study came out, to sing to the precious grandchild- to-be!





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