From an article in Psychology Today. showing that a preborn baby in the womb enjoys being read to:
A new wave of research suggests that the fetus can feel, dream, even enjoy The Cat in the Hat. The abortion debate may never be the same.
One psychologist weighs in on how a preborn baby moves:
Heidelise Als, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist at Harvard Medical School, is fascinated by the amount of tactile stimulation a fetus gives itself. “It touches a hand to the face, one hand to the other hand, clasps its feet, touches its foot to its leg, its hand to its umbilical cord,” she reports.
The article goes on to say the following about unborn babies:
Along with the ability to feel, see, and hear comes the capacity to learn and remember. These activities can be rudimentary, automatic, even biochemical. For example, a fetus, after an initial reaction of alarm, eventually stops responding to a repeated loud noise. The fetus displays the same kind of primitive learning, known as habituation, in response to its mother’s voice, Fifer has found.
But the fetus has shown itself capable of far more. In the 1980s, psychology professor Anthony James DeCasper, Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, devised a feeding contraption that allows a baby to suck faster to hear one set of sounds through headphones and to suck slower to hear a different set. With this technique, DeCasper discovered that within hours of birth, a baby already prefers its mother’s voice to a stranger’s, suggesting it must have learned and remembered the voice, albeit not necessarily consciously, from its last months in the womb. More recently, he’s found that a newborn prefers a story read to it repeatedly in the womb – in this case, The Cat in the Hat - over a new story introduced soon after birth.
DeCasper and others have uncovered more mental feats. Newborns can not only distinguish their mother from a stranger speaking, but would rather hear Mom’s voice, especially the way it sounds filtered through amniotic fluid rather than through air. They’re xenophobes, too: they prefer to hear Mom speaking in her native language than to hear her or someone else speaking in a foreign tongue.
By monitoring changes in fetal heart rate, psychologist JeanPierre Lecanuet, Ph.D., and his colleagues in Paris have found that fetuses can even tell strangers’ voices apart. They also seem to like certain stories more than others. The fetal heartbeat will slow down when a familiar French fairy tale such as “La Poulette” (“The Chick”) or “Le Petit Crapaud” (“The Little Toad”), is read near the mother’s belly. When the same reader delivers another unfamiliar story, the fetal heartbeat stays steady.
Another scientist said:
Birth may be a grand occasion, says the Johns Hopkins University psychologist, but “it is a trivial event in development. Nothing neurologically interesting happens.”
Janet L. Hopson “Fetal Psychology” Psychology Today, Sep/Oct98, Vol. 31 Issue 5, p44, 6p, 4c.Share on Facebook