Sunday, September 24, 2017

Your baby is learning before it's born

Give the kid a head start.
A recent study by researchers at the University of Kansas shows that the brain begins building the foundation of language as much as a month before birth. 
The study looked at fetal heart rate changes for the unborn babies of two dozen American mothers who were, on average, eight months pregnant.

Researchers played a recording from a bilingual speaker reading a passage in English and a passage in Japanese. The babies’ heart rates changed when hearing the second passage read in Japanese, a language with a distinctly different cadence than the mothers’ native English, but their heart rates did not change when the speaker read the second passage in English. This sensitivity to the rhythmic process of language had been seen in studies of days-old infants, but this new information indicates the beginning of language acquisition happens even before a baby is born.

How much can an unborn baby hear? According to Utako Minai, associate professor of linguistics and the team lead for the study, babies can hear a good bit before birth. “Fetuses can hear things, including speech, in the womb. It’s muffled, like the adults talking in a ‘Peanuts’ cartoon, but the rhythm of the language should be preserved and available for the fetus to hear.” 
Babies are born knowing their mother’s voice, and according Minai’s team, they are familiar with the rhythm of her language as well. 
You might want to read to your unborn child. Here are some suggestions.

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