Document Detail

A melodic contour repeatedly experienced by human near-term fetuses elicits a profound cardiac reaction one month after birth.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  21383836     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: Human hearing develops progressively during the last trimester of gestation. Near-term fetuses can discriminate acoustic features, such as frequencies and spectra, and process complex auditory streams. Fetal and neonatal studies show that they can remember frequently recurring sounds. However, existing data can only show retention intervals up to several days after birth.
METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: Here we show that auditory memories can last at least six weeks. Experimental fetuses were given precisely controlled exposure to a descending piano melody twice daily during the 35(th), 36(th), and 37(th) weeks of gestation. Six weeks later we assessed the cardiac responses of 25 exposed infants and 25 naive control infants, while in quiet sleep, to the descending melody and to an ascending control piano melody. The melodies had precisely inverse contours, but similar spectra, identical duration, tempo and rhythm, thus, almost identical amplitude envelopes. All infants displayed a significant heart rate change. In exposed infants, the descending melody evoked a cardiac deceleration that was twice larger than the decelerations elicited by the ascending melody and by both melodies in control infants.
CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Thus, 3-weeks of prenatal exposure to a specific melodic contour affects infants 'auditory processing' or perception, i.e., impacts the autonomic nervous system at least six weeks later, when infants are 1-month old. Our results extend the retention interval over which a prenatally acquired memory of a specific sound stream can be observed from 3-4 days to six weeks. The long-term memory for the descending melody is interpreted in terms of enduring neurophysiological tuning and its significance for the developmental psychobiology of attention and perception, including early speech perception, is discussed.
Carolyn Granier-Deferre; Sophie Bassereau; Aurélie Ribeiro; Anne-Yvonne Jacquet; Anthony J Decasper
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't     Date:  2011-02-23
Journal Detail:
Title:  PloS one     Volume:  6     ISSN:  1932-6203     ISO Abbreviation:  PLoS ONE     Publication Date:  2011  
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2011-03-08     Completed Date:  2011-09-01     Revised Date:  2013-06-30    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  101285081     Medline TA:  PLoS One     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  e17304     Citation Subset:  IM    
Laboratoire de Psychologie et Neuropsychologie Cognitives, CNRS-FRE 3292, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France.
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MeSH Terms
Fetus / physiology*
Gestational Age
Hearing / physiology
Heart Rate / physiology
Heart Rate, Fetal / physiology*
Infant, Newborn / physiology*,  psychology
Memory / physiology*
Music* / psychology
Parturition / physiology
Pregnancy Trimester, Third / physiology
Retention (Psychology) / physiology*
Time Factors

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine

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