According to a new study, babies can remember the melodies of music played for them while they were in the womb. This study helps scientists understand better how infants respond to sounds heard in the womb as they develop.
Psychobiologist Carolyn Granier-Deferre, of Paris Descartes University, used 50 pregnant women as part of the study. The women were asked to play a descending piano melody twice daily during the end of their pregnancies. After the children were born, researchers then tested to see if the infants responded to the same music. The infants were played either the same melody or a different one while they slept. The infants who heard the same melody showed a dramatic change in their heart rates, signaling that they recognized the music they had heard.
On average, the infants who heard the same music while they slept had heart rates that slowed by 12 beats per minute. Infants who heard the new song had drops by only 5-6 beats per minutes. The nearly double rate drop suggests that the infants knew the music they were listening to.
Granier-Deferre warns that this does not mean mothers should be playing music for the unborn children regularly. Headsets designed to fit over a pregnant woman’s stomach can be dangerous if turned up too loud or left on too long. The music can be damaging to the developing inner ear. Instead, she suggests mothers who want to build a music appreciation should sing to their children during pregnancy. – Summer, staff writer
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