Babies Can Learn Music in the Womb

A new study suggests that babies can learn a melody they hear while still in the womb, and recognize it after they are born.

For the study, published online last week by PLOS One, Finnish researchers divided 24 pregnant women into two groups. Five times a week, the “learning group” played a CD that included a one-minute rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” which the unborn children heard an average of 170 times before birth. The control group did not hear the recording.

Then the scientists did EEG tests on the children at birth and again at 4 months as they listened to the original tune and a version in which several notes were altered.

The learning group had a larger response to the melody than the control group did, and the difference was still apparent at 4 months. And the amplitude of response to the changed melody correlated with the number of times the infants were exposed to the original melody in utero.

The lead author, Eino Partanen, a researcher at the University of Helsinki, urged parents not to make too much of the finding. “A baby can be relaxed and soothed by melodies it hears before birth,” he said. “But there is no evidence that it will get your baby into Harvard.”

Or Berklee College of Music – which makes more sense.

Maybe that’s why I love Chopin as much as my mom did.

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