A group of scientists at the University of Helsinki has published findings in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that show that children are capable of learning and retaining information much earlier than previously believed possible – before even being born!
More specifically, they have found that babies in the third trimester were able to retain and recognize specific words. These unborn babies are, in fact, learning language while still in the womb.
In order to test their hypothesis, the scientists gave expectant mothers a recording to play for their unborn babies in the last few months of pregnancy. The recording was meant to be played several times a week and it contained a false word created by the scientists repeated multiple times throughout the recording among other sounds and noises. By the end of the treatment, the unborn babies would have heard the fake word more than 25,000 times before even being born.
Once the children were born, the scientists used electroencephalography (EEG) sensors to detect whether the newborn infants were able to recognize the word played repeatedly for them prior to birth. Their electric brain responses indicated they had developed a distinct memory of the word, they knew it.
This evidence indicates that language development begins much earlier in human life than previously believed. It is also possible that these findings will help scientists and doctors develop treatments for children at risk for dyslexia or auditory processing disorders.
This is another amazing example of our lives before birth and how even the unborn are living, growing members of the same human family.