Listen up pregnant moms: Your baby can hear the music you're listening to right now. And a new study has found that they will show preference to that kind of music — whether it's a lullaby, Mozart or "Blurred Lines" — after birth.
For the study, researchers from the University of Helsinki asked 10 expectant mothers to play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" loudly several times a week throughout their last trimester of pregnancy. A few days after their babies were born, researchers took electroencephalogram, or EEG, recordings of each newborn’s brain by using 12 electrodes scattered over different regions of the head. Babies who had the classic lullaby played to them regularly while still in the womb recognized the song months after birth. These babies had significantly larger brain responses than their newborn peers who had not been exposed to the song.
The experiment was repeated again four months later and yielded similar results, and the more frequently the mother played the music, the larger the electrical responses from the baby.
“They recognize the memory, and their brains react to it,” said study co-author Eino Partanen, a University of Helsinki psychologist. “But do we mean memory like how we have in adults? No. This is more like familiarity.”
Another interesting side note is that the researchers found that when they modified the lullaby, the babies seemed to notice. The EEG was able to catch note-by-note neural responses, and when the tune was different, the babies' brains reacted.
This doesn't mean that you need to run out and buy one of those prenatal music lessons for your child, but it does mean that if you play — or sing — a lullaby for your baby now while she is in the womb, you might be able to calm her with that same tune later on. It also means you might want to turn down the "Blurred Lines" — at least until after your baby is born.
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