Unborn babies may be behind layers and layers of tissue, but new research suggests that those little babes can hear a lot more than we think they do. And by we, I mean those of us who aren’t reading to our in utero baby every evening.
The New York Times reports that babies apparently can learn “bits of their native language” before they enter this world. Meaning that “prenatal learning,” and thereby prenatal education, is about to get a whole lot more buzzy.
Unborn babies reportedly develop the ability to hear at about 30 weeks — and that’s apparently when the fun starts. For the last two months of pregnancy, baby can make out mommy’s voice among all the chatter.
Researchers stumbled across this fact when testing 80 newborns (40 American and 40 Swedish) to determine who could distinguish their native vowel sounds. And wouldn’t you know, these little babies knew the difference:
The scientists gave the babies, ranging in age from 7 hours to 75 hours, pacifiers that counted the number of sucks they made. As the babies sucked, they listened to Swedish and English vowel sounds; the more they sucked, the more the sounds were played. The researchers inferred the babies’ interest in the sound by the amount of sucking.
American babies consistently sucked more often when hearing Swedish vowel sounds, suggesting that the infants had not heard them before, and Swedish babies sucked more when hearing English vowels.
Researchers were reportedly confident that these newborns were not likely to learn such vowel sounds so quickly after being born, ultimately citing prenatal learning as the cause. Which means maybe pepper your Kimye gossiping with some SAT words?