Foetuses can learn sounds in the womb

Babies in the womb can learn and remember what they have been taught for at least 24 hours, researchers have found.

Babies in the womb can learn and remember what they have been taught for at least 24 hours, researchers have found.

Doctors who used a vibroacoustic stimulator - a probe that emits vibrations and sound held over the mother's womb - found they rapidly learnt to recognise and ignore the sound that at first startled them.

The study - reported in The Lancet - by researchers from the University Hospital of Maastricht in the Netherlands was conducted on foetuses of 37 to 40 weeks' gestational age. Doctors observed the foetuses with an ultrasound scanner while the stimulator was held above the mother's abdomen and switched on for one second every 30 seconds. The stimulus was applied again after 10 minutes and a third time after 24 hours. On each occasion, the foetuses became used to the sound more quickly than they did the first time.

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