This is good news for all the mothers. If a new Stanford University Medical Center research is anything to go by, children’s brains respond more strongly to their mother’s voice than anyone else’s.
Lead author Daniel Abrams, PhD, instructor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said many of our social, language and emotional processes are learned by listening to our mom’s voice.
He, however, added that surprisingly little is known about how the brain organises itself around this very important sound source.
Decades of research have shown that children prefer their mother’s voices. In one classic study, one-day-old babies sucked harder on a pacifier when they heard the sound of their mom’s voice, as opposed to the voices of other women. However, the mechanism behind this preference had never been defined.
Vinod Menon, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, said nobody had really looked at the brain circuits that might be engaged.
“We wanted to know: Is it just auditory and voice-selective areas that respond differently, or is it broader in terms of engagement, emotional reactivity and detection of salient stimuli,” he said.
After conducting an experiment on 24 children in the age group of 7 to 12, the scholars found that the brain regions were more engaged by the voices of the children’s own mothers than by the control voices included auditory regions such as the primary auditory cortex.
The study also showed that children whose brains showed a stronger degree of connection between all these regions when hearing their mom’s voice also had the strongest social communication ability, suggesting that increased brain connectivity between the regions is a neural fingerprint for greater social communication abilities in children.
The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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