Mother’s voice stimulates various regions in a child’s brain

Mother’s voice stimulates various regions in a child’s brain


Researchers have discovered that different areas of children’s brains get activated when they hear their mother’s voice in comparison to other voices or noises. This reaction of their brains also determines their ability to communicate in a social environment, claimed a recent study.

The areas of the brain that are stimulated, stretch beyond the auditory region to the areas that are responsible for face recognition, reward processing, emotion, social functions and the region that decides what is personally relevant to the child.

Daniel Abram, one of the researchers from Stanford University US says that children learn about social norms, language and emotions from listening to their mothers’ voices. It is quite astounding to think that a mother’s voice can reach to so many different areas of the brain. He also added that the research has not been able to explain how the brain arranges itself to the mother’s sound.

Several researches across decades have proved that children prefer their mother’s voices over others. A study claims that one- year-old babies sucked on their pacifier harder when they heard their mother’s voices. The cause of this preference is indefinable.

Vinod Menon from Stanford University says that the aim of the research was to find out whether a mother’s voice can only activate the auditory or other areas as well.

The research involved 24 children between the ages of 7-12 with no developmental disorder and who had an IQ of minimum 80. They were all being raised by their own parents.

The researchers recorded the mother’s voices saying three nonsensical words and also asked the parents to fill out a questionnaire regarding their children’s ability to communicate and connect with others.

Menon clarified that the reason for recording nonsensical words is that the children of this age group already know words and their meanings. Meaningful words would invoke a different circuitry and that would interfere with the result.

Voices of two mothers whose children were not involved in the study were also recorded to be used as controls. The participants were led to listen to short clips of voices some of their own mothers and some voices of the control mothers while their brains were being scanned by magnetic resonance imagining.

The children were able to recognize their mother’s voices with more than 97% accuracy, no matter how short the clips were.

The research appeared in the journal of PNAS.