New research shows that a child’s brain is activated by its mother’s voice.
It looks like a mother’s voice does more that pacify her child, it activates its entire brain.
When a child hears its mother’s voice, research shows the child’s brain engages the parts responsible for sound but does not stop there. The voice also lights up brain zones related to face recognition, emotion, rewards and social activity.
The effect seems to be specific to each child-mother relationship, the brain of each child being tied up to the particular sounds of their mother. When put to listen to other mother voices, the brain does not react the same. The stronger reaction is with their mother’s voice.
This study also found that the strongest reactions of all came from kids with high social communication abilities.
The study on child’s brains was conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine, California and was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal. It took 24 kids aged from 7 to 12 and scanned their brains with an MRI while they listen to different sounds.
The sounds played were three nonsense words spoken by their mother and the other mothers. The reason behind the nonsense words was to avoid words that might trigger usual reactions in the child’s brain. Even with sounds less that a second long, a child was able to detect with a 97% accuracy the voice of its mother.
The amygdala and the auditory cortex were two primary brain activated regions.
These two are responsible for emotion and sound processing. Other brain parts activated by the mother’s voice were brain regions that distinguish and give value to reward stimuli. Interestingly, the brain zones that process information about the self reacted in the same way as the other mentioned regions.
There have been other studies on babies and children showing how they prefer their mother’s voice, but it’s the first time biological effects are examined. The scientists that ran the research were surprised to see so many brain regions being accessed by a mother’s voice.
A previous study has shown that the reaction of a child hearing a mother’s voice over the phone is the equivalent of a hug, yet this study shows the child-mother bond goes on for many years.
Image Source: Gabriela Pinto