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Wed Jan 2, 2013, 01:32 PM

While in womb, babies begin learning language from their mothers

Babies only hours old are able to differentiate between sounds from their native language and a foreign language, scientists have discovered. The study indicates that babies begin absorbing language while still in the womb, earlier than previously thought.

Sensory and brain mechanisms for hearing are developed at 30 weeks of gestational age, and the new study shows that unborn babies are listening to their mothers talk during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy and at birth can demonstrate what they've heard.

"The mother has first dibs on influencing the child's brain," said Patricia Kuhl, co-author and co-director of the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington. "The vowel sounds in her speech are the loudest units and the fetus locks onto them."

Previously, researchers had shown that newborns are born ready to learn and begin to discriminate between language sounds within the first months of life, but there was no evidence that language learning had occurred in utero.

"This is the first study that shows fetuses learn prenatally about the particular speech sounds of a mother's language," said Christine Moon, lead author and a professor of psychology at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash. "This study moves the measurable result of experience with speech sounds from six months of age to before birth."

Read more at: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-01-womb-babies-language-mothers.html

24 replies, 3811 views

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Reply While in womb, babies begin learning language from their mothers (Original post)
n2doc Jan 2013 OP
knitter4democracy Jan 2013 #1
1monster Jan 2013 #13
Little Star Jan 2013 #2
xxqqqzme Jan 2013 #3
Igel Jan 2013 #4
jamtoday Jan 2013 #9
CrispyQ Jan 2013 #5
Scuba Jan 2013 #6
roguevalley Jan 2013 #7
jamtoday Jan 2013 #8
1monster Jan 2013 #14
Rozlee Jan 2013 #10
SunSeeker Jan 2013 #11
RedCloud Jan 2013 #12
Tutonic Jan 2013 #15
Lib2DeDeath Jan 2013 #16
mzteris Jan 2013 #18
caseymoz Jan 2013 #20
Jim__ Jan 2013 #21
caseymoz Jan 2013 #22
JDPriestly Jan 2013 #23
Carni Jan 2013 #17
caseymoz Jan 2013 #19
John2 Jan 2013 #24

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:34 PM

1. Fascinating! We need to get this out there!

I well remember seeing my daughter, just an hour after she was born, immediately react to her father's voice, not just mine. She definitely knew sounds even that early, so I'm not surprised by the findings. Still, we need to get this out there so that mothers can know just how much power they have.

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Response to knitter4democracy (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 06:59 PM

13. When I was in labor, they had my son hooked up to a fetal monitor due to some

complications, and I was able to watch his heart beat. Whenever my husband talked to him (via my tummy), my son's heart rate shot up about fifty beats per minute (and considering that his regular heart beat was about 135 to 145 beat per minute, it was quite fast).

Interestingly, his heart rate did not increase when other voices came near, male or female.

So, babies can recognize voices in utero. He knew his daddy's voice...

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 02:51 PM

2. Wow just wow! Now I wish I had paid more attention to what...

I said and the tone of voice I used when I was pregnant many moons ago. Amazing article!

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:04 PM

3. When I was pregnant w/ my

daughter (70-71), I would cue the 'Songs of the Humpback Whales', lower the sound and put the headphones on either side of my belly. I would do this to relax or take little naps.

After she was born, she made little high pitched hums when she first woke in the morning. Later when she started crawling, she made the same noises when ever she was on the move. I always knew where she was by those little high pitched hums.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 04:58 PM

4. I was taught this in the 1990s.

And it wasn't grad-level, cutting edge.

However, it was based on newborns and the apparently inane assumption that if newborns had robust distinctions a week or two after birth that, well, gee, they learned the distinctions in utero.

It's good research. Moving that to "hours after birth" is fine and dandy.

However, there's this horrible set of blinkers that they issue in grad school.

If you're a Chomskyan linguist and are the first to publish something that non-Chomskyan linguists knew 30 years ago, you discovered it and get all the citations. You don't need to cite the older work.

If you're a psychologist doing linguistics, you don't have to cite linguists that were psycholinguists without the PhD in psychology. Even if all you've done is essentially replicate their findings, it's a novel discovery (for your little universe) and you get citation credit in your field.

If you're doing education research, you don't have to cite comparable findings decades old, esp. if they're originally published in a foreign language. Hell, you probably don't even know they exist. Unless they're trendy.

A Slavist, cross trained in generative linguistics, later exposed to lots of psycholinguistics work done by psychology-trained researchers, and now a teacher exposed to education research ... I keep hearing about the same discoveries, repeated over and over in isolation by people with broad access to databases of citations and research. Tedious, all these rediscoveries of things not forgotten. Even more tedious is the indignation when you put a copy of the older research in their hands and claim that their main finding is just something that grad students (or undergrads) in other depts. have long known.

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Response to Igel (Reply #4)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 03:43 AM

9. Hipster alert


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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 05:43 PM

5. Years ago I read some study & all I remember

is it said it's good for a pregnant woman to 'read to her baby.' I thought it made perfect sense.

Thanks for posting.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 09:28 PM

6. Yet my adopted kids speak not a single word of Korean.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Wed Jan 2, 2013, 11:18 PM

7. they are finding baby tissue in the brains and organs of mothers. apparently this is more

of a symbiosis than they ever thought.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 03:38 AM

8. Ted talk

on this subject. Out of my bookmarks and I haven't got round to watching it yet but it could be interesting.

http://www.ted.com/talks/annie_murphy_paul_what_we_learn_before_we_re_born.html

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Response to jamtoday (Reply #8)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 07:22 PM

14. Very interesting. I wish I'd seen it before I got pregnant just over 21 years ago...

But, of course, this info wasn't readily available then.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 03:38 PM

10. Can't be true.

My kids weren't born cussing like sailors.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 05:10 PM

11. Well that figures, the last time my son listened to me was when he was an unborn baby. nt

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 05:36 PM

12. Eavesdropping has been known for decades.

What I find odd is the statement that distinguishing foreign languages with a few hours since babies tend to have a "genetic" language.

i.e.

wa-wa English uses the first part of the baby word for WA-ter. Spanish uses the second part in agWA (not spelled that way)

Also ma-ma (many languages have the M word in some aspect for the birthing female).

So hold on psychologists and let the linguists make that conclusion.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:14 PM

15. Let's hope they don't learn tricks from their mamas--huh Kim K?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 02:19 PM

16. What does this say about women's rights?

 

How can we continue aborting these conditions if they really are learning human beings?

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Response to Lib2DeDeath (Reply #16)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 02:19 PM

18. we're not talking blastocysts.

i.

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Response to Lib2DeDeath (Reply #16)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 02:43 PM

20. And I think to make that argument is probably


. . . exactly why this study was done and why these results are being reported. And I'm skeptical as to the results.

Things wouldn't sound very clear at all in the womb. Get under a swimming pool. See what sounds you can make out of your friends talking by the side. To simulate conditions in the womb, have them also run a vacuum cleaner to simulate the sounds of the intestines and liver. Then have them run a pile driver to simulate the sounds of the heart. Now try to pick out what they're saying.

I exaggerate a little, but not much. If this can be duplicated and has any credence the next question would be how.

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Response to caseymoz (Reply #20)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 03:27 PM

21. We should not begin analyzing the validity of a scientific study by looking at its political ...

... implications. The right already does that and it is detrimental to science. Any scientific study needs to be replicated and analyzed. Science should dictate the analysis.

The article talks about the issues you raise about hearing in the womb - that's why it's the mother's words that have special significance.

My non-expert understanding of Roe v Wade is that the viability of the fetus was the determining factor in allowing states to make laws concerning abortion. This study does not sound like it would have any effect on that decision.

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Response to Jim__ (Reply #21)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 07:31 PM

22. That's not how I began.


I posted what I thought about the likelihood of clearly hearing phonemes while immersed in amniotic fluid and being inundated with loud internal noises, in #19. I swear I hadn't even thought of the connection to the anti-choice movement until I read and answered this previous post, #16.

Regardless of that angle, I'm highly skeptical of this finding. I don't think it's responsible to call this finding and theory anything but preliminary. I probably shouldn't have conjectured on how this unlikely claim could be made, but I find reporting this as though it's a proven fact to be irresponsible, so then I tried to attribute the irresponsibility.

Anti-choicers say a fetus can feel pain months before it really does, and yes, I reject that factoid as a fabrication. They're way off on the size and development of the fetus. And whatever conservatives do, I reject those claims out of hand because the science doesn't agree with them.

If this gets promoted as truth with no other question or trial, it's either going to be due to anti-choicers, or to commercial motivations. Unlike, say, Global Warming, this is something that's easy and straightforward to check. You don't have to wait until the results are in, and it doesn't involve any esoteric scientific training understand them.

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Response to Lib2DeDeath (Reply #16)

Sun Jan 6, 2013, 01:12 AM

23. Most abortions are done in the first three to four months of pregnancy.

This study says the baby first hears well after that time.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Fri Jan 4, 2013, 09:36 PM

17. This must be why my 17 year old drops too many F bombs

COME ON! Seriously?

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Sat Jan 5, 2013, 02:35 PM

19. I'm skeptical.


Things inside the womb must sound profoundly different than outside of it, and with the heartbeat and other sounds drowning it out, I can't see how this is likely. I would wait to see if the results can be duplicated before giving this any credence.

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Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Jan 7, 2013, 07:21 AM

24. I'm skeptical

 

also, because I don't remember anything when I was a fetus. I can remember things when I was around 2 to 3 years old though. The Universty you mentioned is also Lutheran.

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