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Infant Behav Dev. 2009 Jan;32(1):59-71. doi: 10.1016/j.infbeh.2008.10.002. Epub 2008 Dec 5.

Fetal sensitivity to properties of maternal speech and language.

Author information

1
Queen's University, 92 Barrie Street, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. kisilevb@queensu.ca

Abstract

Fetal speech and language abilities were examined in 104 low-risk fetuses at 33-41 weeks gestational age using a familiarization/novelty paradigm. Fetuses were familiarized with a tape recording of either their mother or a female stranger reading the same passage and subsequently presented with a novel speaker or language: Studies (1) & (2) the alternate voice, (3) the father's voice, and (4) a female stranger speaking in native English or a foreign language (Mandarin); heart rate was recorded continuously. Data analyses revealed a novelty response to the mother's voice and a novel foreign language. An offset response was observed following termination of the father's and a female stranger's voice. These findings provide evidence of fetal attention, memory, and learning of voices and language, indicating that newborn speech/language abilities have their origins before birth. They suggest that neural networks sensitive to properties of the mother's voice and native-language speech are being formed.

PMID:
19058856
DOI:
10.1016/j.infbeh.2008.10.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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