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Psychol Sci. 2003 May;14(3):220-4.

Effects of experience on fetal voice recognition.

Author information

1
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. kisilevb@post.queensu.ca

Abstract

The ability of human fetuses to recognize their own mother's voice was examined. Sixty term fetuses were assigned to one of two conditions during which they were exposed to a tape recording of their mother or a female stranger reading a passage. Voice stimuli were delivered through a loudspeaker held approximately 10 cm above the maternal abdomen and played at an average of 95 dB SPL. Each condition consisted of three 2-min periods: no stimulus, voice (mother or stranger), and no stimulus. Fetal heart rate increased in response to the mother's voice and decreased in response to the stranger's; both responses were sustained for 4 min. The finding of differential behavior in response to a familiar versus a novel voice provides evidence that experience influences fetal voice processing. It supports an epigenetic model of speech perception, presuming an interaction between genetic expression of neural development and species-specific experience.

PMID:
12741744
DOI:
10.1111/1467-9280.02435
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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