Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Learning Before Birth

When babies are born, they are already familiar with the "melody" of their mother's speech. Researchers have recorded (from inside the womb at the beginning of labor) the sounds produced by the mother that the fetus is able to hear. Ken Robinson in "Out of Our Minds" puts it this way: "The phrases reaching the baby have been filtered through the mother's tissues, however, so that the crisp, high frequencies, which carry much of the information important for identifying the meanings of words, are muted, whereas the musical characteristics of speech--its pitch contours, loudness variations, tempo and rhythmic patterning--are well preserved." It is thought that this early exposure to musical speech sounds may begin the process of learning to speak. And this in-utero exposure begins quite early in the gestation process.

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