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Fetus Learns Intonations of Mother's Tongue
Date:11/5/2009

"Imitation of melody contour, in contrast, is merely predicated upon well-coordinated respiratory-laryngeal mechanisms and is not constrained by articulatory immaturity," the researchers wrote. "Newborns are probably highly motivated to imitate their mother's behavior in order to attract her and hence to foster bonding."

The concept that fetuses can learn does not support playing classical music for your unborn child or the use of "fetal learning systems," which are marketed as a way to give babies a head start by playing certain sounds through the abdomen.

"We have known for some time the fetus is capable of some learning, but it doesn't mean you should teach them stuff," DiPietro said. "That's the leap people make. But among all of us that do fetal research, we are unanimous that it's a terrible idea to put speakers on your abdomen and play stimuli to your fetus. There is no evidence they work, and we would guess they could even harm development by disrupting fetal sleep."

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more on fetal development.



SOURCES: Kenneth Gerhardt, Ph.D., professor, audiology, and senior associate dean, graduate school, University of Florida, Gainesville; Janet DiPietro, developmental psychologist and associate dean, research, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore; Nov. 5, 2009, Current Biology, online


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