Challenging evidence from new research shows that newborns can remember words. The research concludes that the unborn fetus can recollect specific words heard in the mother’s womb.
The University of Helsinki conducted a study using EEG scans on 33 newborn babies. Interestingly, the research began when the infants were still in the womb. The expecting mothers were divided into two groups, with only one group listening to meaningless word ‘tatata’ repeatedly. Some of the expecting mothers in this group listened to the word 25,000 times.
The research team played the same recording to the newborns, 5 days after birth. And the result was astounding. Babies who had heard the word in womb demonstrated higher brain activity. They also showed ‘a mismatch response’ when the word was spoken in a different way.
According to researchers, these results show that the unborn fetus has the ability to hear and ‘remember’ sounds and tones. The lead author of the study, Eino Partanen, says, “Once we learn a sound, if it’s repeated to us often enough, we form a memory of it, which is activated when we hear the sound again. This leads us to believe that the fetus can learn much more detailed information than we previously thought.”
This is not the first time researchers have focused on the behaviors of newborns. In the past, one study showed that newborns respond to theme songs from TV programs, which their mothers had watched while expecting. Another research illustrates that babies get a ‘feel’ of their native language before they are born. The new study, however, presents a stronger evidence in favor of the brain development of the unborn fetus.
Nevertheless, parents should not consider this study as proof that they can improve their child’s linguistic capacity by conversing with nonsensical words before birth. The study does not explain if the newborn memories are ‘permanent’. However, it is surprising that newborns can remember words, even if it’s for some time. Isn’t it?