Evidence suggests babies in womb start learning earlier than thought: study
Friday, July 25, 2014
Barbara Liston for Reuters
ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) – Babies in the womb show evidence of learning by their 34th week, three weeks earlier than previously thought, new research has found. (...)
The study, published in the journal Infant Behavior and Development, followed 32 women from their 28th through 38th weeks of pregnancy in an investigation to pinpoint when the ability to learn emerges.
Krueger had the women repeat three times out loud a set 15-second nursery rhyme, and do it twice a day for six weeks. The selected rhyme was previously unknown to the mothers.
The fetuses’ heart rates were monitored at 32, 33 and 34 weeks as they listened to a recording of a female stranger recite the rhyme.
By the 34th week, Krueger said, the heart rates of the tested fetuses showed an overall slight decline while listening to the recording, compared with a control group of fetuses whose heart rates slightly accelerated while listening to a recording of a new nursery rhyme.
Krueger said a decelerating heartbeat has long been associated with a fetus recognizing something familiar, compared with an accelerated heartbeat response to a novel sound or experience.