Language Learning Begins in the Womb; in the Lab; Newborns Differentiate between Sounds, Languages, Researchers Say

By Perlberg, Steven | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), January 24, 2013 | Go to article overview

Language Learning Begins in the Womb; in the Lab; Newborns Differentiate between Sounds, Languages, Researchers Say


Perlberg, Steven, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


When Dr. Raul Artal, director of obstetrics at St. Marys Health Center, counseled his own pregnant daughter last year, he told her to play music to soothe her gestating baby.

Now a new study shows that Artals infant grandson may have learned language skills in addition to his mothers taste in music during his time in the womb.

The study out of Tacoma, Wash., and Stockholm, Sweden, shows that during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy, babies glean language information from their mothers. The findings mark one of the first times scientists have seen evidence that language learning begins in utero.

Researchers examined 80 American and Swedish infants an even mix of girls and boys. Thirty hours after the babies were born, researchers outfitted them with headphones that played vowel sounds in both their native tongue and the foreign language.

Pacifiers wired to a computer measured the babies reactions to the different sounds.

The more a baby sucked after hearing a computer-generated vowel, the more she demonstrated interest in that particular language- specific sound.

Researchers found that the newborns sucked longer for the foreign language, suggesting that the infants already had a familiarity with their native tongue at birth.

The researchers concluded that the babies in both countries, not yet 2 days old, had learned prenatally to differentiate between sounds and languages.

Thanks to mom.

This study confirms the importance of talking a lot to the baby, said Dr. Hugo Lagercrantz, professor of pediatrics at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and co-author of the study. Although the newborn infant does not start to talk yet, its brain is like a magnet absorbing phonemes.

Artal, who is also the chair of the obstetrics and gynecology department at St. Louis University School of Medicine, said, This is a very sophisticated study. They were able to quantify responses to familiar sounds, but the phenomenon has existed for hundreds of years, if not thousands.

The study is another breakthrough in understanding how and when babies begin to process what they are hearing inside the womb. Hearing develops during the last trimester of pregnancy, with the cochlea the coiled inner ear cavity maturing in the last few weeks.

Scientists have long known that babies react to their mothers voice. A 2003 study found that babies heart rates speed up when hearing their mothers voice read poetry but slow when trying to understand verse read by someone else. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Language Learning Begins in the Womb; in the Lab; Newborns Differentiate between Sounds, Languages, Researchers Say
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.