Babies can be introduced to classical music at concerts this spring designed to aid brain development and strengthen the bond between mother and child.

The programme, called Sound Beginnings, is funded by the founders of the Dorling Kindersley publishing concern, Peter and Juliet Kindersley. Studies show that music may help to develop young brains. Paul Robertson, the violinist who was formerly a member of the acclaimed Medici Quartet, has devised the concerts this and next month.

They will be accompanied by a free symposium in London on 26 June involving experts in brain development, audiology and other fields to assess current understanding of music in early development.

Mr Kindersley said: "Just as it's vitally important to eat good quality food right from the start, so we are deeply affected by the music we hear from a very early age, even in the womb."

Researchers believe that oxytocin, a naturally-occurring health-promoting brain hormone, is likely to be encouraged by music as well as breast-feeding and touch. Raised oxytocin levels make people more caring, responsive and open and less aggressive.

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