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Fetuses Have Memory In the Womb

Posted Jul 21 2009 11:51pm

Played classical music for your unborn? Me, it was way too much NPR. Sure, our relatives might have scoffed, but a new study shows that after 30 weeks, the fetus may actually have memories of the rockin’ out time y’all shared.

Researchers in the Netherlands studied 100 pregnant women and found that prenatally, babies may have short-term memories of sound by 30 weeks. After that, they develop a long-term sound bank.

Here’s how they make their musical claims:

Researchers tested the fetuses with sounds. Five of the subjects didn’t respond, and were therefore eliminated from further research.

The others were subjected to “vibroacoustic” stimuli repeatedly. Eventually, the subjects got used to the noise and stopped moving from the sounds.

Eventually, researchers reintroduced the stimuli to see if the fetus could “remember” them. According to ABC News:

The study found that by 30 weeks of age, a fetus could “remember” a sound for 10 minutes. By the 34th week a fetus may be able to “remember” the sound for four weeks.

Now…are the fetuses responding to sound because it’s repeated and remembered or because it’s there?

And is my NPR addiction part of the reason my son is such an awesome conversationalist? Maybe. Or maybe he just figures that because Mama listens to so much talk radio, he should fill any void with his little voice.

Source: ABC News

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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