Navigation Links
Memory Forms at 30 Weeks in the Womb

Study finds fetuses showed short-term memory of 10 minutes at this stage in development

WEDNESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- Fetuses that are only 30 weeks old may already possess short-term memory, Dutch researchers report.

"This is the next step into a better insight in the development of the fetal central nervous system," said study co-author Dr. Jan G. Nijhuis, director of the Centre for Genetics, Reproduction and Child Health at Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands. "We aim to develop an 'intra-uterine neurologic examination,' which could then be used in fetuses at risk."

Although memory is thought to develop while the baby is still in the womb, little else is known about the phenomenon.

"It is a fairly new idea to look at whether learning occurs in utero," said Dr. Russell Fothergill, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and director of ambulatory care at Scott & White.

The authors recruited 93 pregnant Dutch women, and then measured fetal responses to repeated "vibroacoustic" stimulation. Their report appears in the July/August issue of Child Development.

"We used a vibroacoustic stimulator, which leads to a combined stimulus of vibration and sound," Nijhuis explained. "The stimuli were applied to the maternal abdomen above the fetal legs for a period of one second every 30 seconds. We counted the number of stimuli after which the fetus does not respond anymore."

When the fetus makes the change to no longer responding, it is "habituated"; it recognizes the stimulus as "safe."

The authors stated that habituation is a form of learning and needs an intact central nervous system.

"In its simplest form, [habituation] is related to how we think about humans learning," Fothergill said.

According to background information in the paper, the first study to look at fetal habituation took place in 1925 and involved repeated honking of a car horn. Since then, similar studies have been conducted with electric toothbrushes and door buzzers, as well as the vibroacoustic stimulator.

In this study, fetuses were exposed to the vibroacoustic stimulation at 30, 32, 34, 36 and 38 weeks' gestation.

Fetuses as young as 30 weeks demonstrated a short-term memory of 10 minutes, and fetuses at 34 weeks seemed able to remember information they stored four weeks prior, the authors stated.

The level of stimulation the fetuses in this study received appears relatively high, another expert stated.

"I'm almost certain the baby heard it quite clearly and it was probably pretty loud," said Dr. Richard O. Jones, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine and medical director of obstetrics at Scott & White. "I almost wish I could do an ultrasound looking at the baby while they were making these loud noises. I would not be at all surprised to see the baby putting its hands over its ears."

And, of course, doctors routinely used different forms of stimulation to make sure a baby is alive and, literally, "kicking" while still in the womb.

"One of the things we do to monitor the health of a pregnancy is to have the mother count the baby's kicks. We like to see 10 movements in a two-hour period and most moms get 10 movements in about 20 minutes, especially if they time it after dinner," Jones said.

After reading this study, he added, if a mother complains that her baby isn't moving enough, one of the things he might suggest is turning the volume down.

More information

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

SOURCES: Jan G. Nijhuis, M.D., Ph.D., head, department of obstetrics and gynecology, and director, Centre for Genetics, Reproduction and Child Health, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, the Netherlands; Russell Fothergill, M.D., assistant professor, obstetrics and gynecology, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and director, ambulatory care, Scott & White; Richard O. Jones, M.D., assistant professor, obstetrics and gynecology, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and medical director, obstetrics, Scott & White; July/August 2009 Child Development

Copyright©2009 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Drug rescues memory lost to Alzheimers disease
2. Memory test and PET scans detect early signs of Alzheimers
3. Brown professor continues debate over recovered memory
4. More Evidence That Caffeine Can Jolt Memory
5. Caffeine reverses memory impairment in Alzheimers mice
6. On Memory, Older Americans Outsmart the English
7. Sleep May Be Essential for Long-Term Memory
8. Transplant drug stimulates immune memory
9. Generation of a severe memory-deficit mutant mouse by exclusively eliminating the kinase activity of CaMKIIalpha
10. Depression may increase Alzheimers risk in people with memory problems
11. Penn study demonstrates new way to boost immune memory
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Memory Forms at 30 Weeks in the Womb
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 02, 2015 , ... ... Gastrointestinal events and association with initiation of treatment for osteoporosis ”. , As ... of pharmacological treatment in patients diagnosed with osteoporosis. Based on a large US ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , ... December 01, 2015 , ... According to an ... groups has filed a discrimination claim against the U.S. Department of Health and Human ... Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans are breaking the clause in the law prohibiting the ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Houston, TX (PRWEB) , ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... owner of Vitenas Cosmetic Surgery, has been named by MedEsthetics magazine as the Best ... best of the best among the many elite aesthetic physicians honored by the industry ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... December 1, 2015—Since ... improvements in scientific research and discoveries, leading us to better understand the disease’s ... to those affected by HIV/AIDS. Mediaplanet’s cross-platform edition of “World AIDS Day” provides ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... the United States. Podiatrists are well aware that psychology-based patient non-compliance (disobedience of ... often catastrophic contributors to diseases of the diabetic foot. The American Board ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... Va. , Dec. 1, 2015  AccuTEC ... unveiled a new corporate logo and brand identity ... the design and engineering of bladed products where ... --> --> Serving manufacturers ... glass, and auto glass equipment, AccuTEC,s product lines ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. , Dec. 1, 2015 ... the fight against HIV/AIDS, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: ... partnerships through its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies to significantly ... adolescent girls, who make up 74 percent of ... 1 . Announced on World AIDS Day, these ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... New York , December 1, 2015 ... Contraceptive Pills, Contraceptive Injectables, Topical Contraceptives, Male ... Implants, Contraceptive Vaginal Rings, Contraceptive Diaphragms, Contraceptive ... Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and ... released by Transparency Market Research (TMR).The report ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: