Report! Babies Learn to Recognize Words in the Womb!
Be careful what you say around a pregnant woman. As a fetus grows inside a mother's belly, it can hear sounds from the outside world—and can understand them well enough to retain memories of them after birth, according to new research.
It may seem implausible that fetuses can listen to speech within the womb, but the sound-processing parts of their brain become active in the last trimester of pregnancy, and sound carries fairly well through the mother's abdomen. "If you put your hand over your mouth and speak, that's very similar to the situation the fetus is in," says cognitive neuroscientist Eino Partanen of the University of Helsinki. "You can hear the rhythm of speech, rhythm of music, and so on."