New York, July 18: Strange but true, unborn baby can distinguish the difference sounds used in various languages even a month before being born, in a study.
According to study, foetuses can hear things including speech but not clearly.
In the study, the foetal heart rates changed when they heard the unfamiliar language (Japanese) rather then similar language like English.
“The results suggest that language development may indeed start in utero. Foetuses are tuning their ears to the language they are going to acquire even before they are born, based on the speech signals available to them in utero,” said lead author Utako Minai, associate professor from the University of Kansas.
“Pre-natal sensitivity to the rhythmic properties of language may provide children with one of the very first building blocks in acquiring language,” Minai added.
For the study, the team examined 24 women, average of eight months pregnant.
Minai had a bilingual speaker make two recordings, one each in English and Japanese — argued to be rhythmically distinctive language, to be played in succession to the foetus.
“The intrauterine environment is a noisy place. The foetus is exposed to maternal gut sounds, her heartbeats and voice, as well as external sounds.”
“Without exposure to sound, the auditory cortex wouldn’t get enough stimulation to develop properly. This study gives evidence that some of that development is linked to language,” explained Kathleen Gustafson, a research associate professor at the varsity.