An interesting new study has led scientists to rethink how early fetuses are able to hear and react to sound. The Spanish research project conducted by the Institute Marques revealed that fetuses as young as 16 weeks old responded to music by moving their lips and sticking out their tongues.
“Our study suggests that music induces a response that activates brain circuits, stimulating language and communication,” the institute said in a statement. “it proves that learning begins in the womb.”
It was previously thought that prior to 26 weeks, a fetus could not hear music.
The study could add fuel to the debate about whether playing music while pregnant will benefit children after they are born. The most commonly known speculation on this point is the so-called Mozart effect, based on the belief that playing classical music to unborn children impacts their brain development. There is no proof from research that this is the case for babies.
The first test claiming to prove this was carried out in the early 1990s among teenage children, but even these results have been contested. A 2013 study did, however, indicate that babies may be able to recall music they heard in the womb up to four months after birth.
You can see a video of the fetuses’ reaction here.