Research Shows Learning and Memory Six Weeks Prior to Birth
If you’ve ever been pregnant, did you have a saying you’d repeat to yourself—something about taking things one day at a time, or maybe even wishing that men could know what it’s like to carry a child? Or did you have a favorite song you’d listen to obsessively? Well, if you said or heard something like that over and over again during pregnancy, your newborn may remember it too.
A study funded by the National Science Foundation’s Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate suggests babies begin to acquire knowledge in the womb earlier than previously thought.
Research led by Charlene Krueger, an associate professor at the University of Florida’s College of Nursing, and published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, provides evidence that what fetuses hear by their 34th week in utero can inspire learning. That’s three weeks earlier than than the evidence of learning detected by previous research.
By the 38th week of pregnancy, memory is evident; births normally occur around 40 weeks.
Krueger conducts research on early developmental exposure to sound, specifically maternal voice. She and co-investigator Cynthia Garvan, the University of Florida’s statistics director in the Office of Educational Research, asked 32 women to repeat aloud the same 15-second nursery rhyme twice a day for six weeks from their 28th week of pregnancy through their 34th week.
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