Study Shows Newborn Babies Remember Music They Heard in the Womb (3/2011)

Study Shows Newborn Babies Remember Music They Heard in the Womb Scientists at Paris Descartes University have found that one-month-old babies remember music that was played to them in the third trimester of their mothers’ pregnancies. Developmental psychobiologist Carolyn Granier-Deferre and her colleagues at the Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology played a descending piano melody twice daily during the 35th, 36th, and 37th weeks of gestation to the unborn children of 25 women. Twenty-five other women at the same stage of pregnancy were used as controls. One month after birth, the descending melody and an ascending nine-note piano melody were played to both sets of babies while they were in quiet sleep, and the cardiac responses of the 25 exposed infants and 25 control infants were assessed. The researchers reported that all infants displayed a significant heart rate change when they were exposed to the music. However, the scientists observed that the heart rates of the 25 sleeping babies who had heard the notes before birth briefly slowed by about 12 beats a minute with the familiar descending melody. The unfamiliar ascending nine-note piano melody played to the exposed infants resulted in a heart rate decrease of only five or six beats per minute. The 25 control infants who had never heard either melody had the same five or six beats per minute heart rate decrease. “In exposed infants, the descending melody evoked a cardiac deceleration that was twice larger than the decelerations elicited by the ascending melody and by both melodies in control infants,” Dr. Granier-Deferre reported. The researchers concluded that three weeks of prenatal exposure to a specific...