Learning in the Womb

Several studies suggest that children can learn while they are still in the womb. For example, newborns prefer the sound of their own mother's voice. In one experiment, they learned to change their pattern of sucking in order to activate a recording of their mother's voice instead of that of another woman. The preference appears to have been acquired before birth.

In another case, newborns preferred the sound of their mother's voice when it was adjusted to resemble what they might have heard in the womb.

In an even more amazing study, newborns stopped crying and responded to songs played on shows that their mothers watched while they were pregnant.

Prenatal learning seems to extend to the sense of taste as well. Mothers who maintained the same diet before and after they gave birth were more successful in breastfeeding than mothers who changed to a less spicy diet. This may reflect the child's preference for food the mother ate while she was pregnant because the mother's milk contains clues about her diet.

Download the report
(1,255 KB, Word doc)