Send to

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

Effects of experience on fetal voice recognition.

Author information

Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center