According to a new study, a fetus in the womb is able to hear at just 16 weeks gestation.
While it was accepted that a fetus’ ears are fully developed at 16 weeks of pregnancy, it was believed that a fetus couldn’t hear until 26 weeks.
Dr. Marisa Lopez-Teijon of the Institut Marques in Barcelona, Spain, led a study that could prove this theory wrong, Daily Mail reports. Lopez-Teijon noted that the findings show a fetus responding to music that was transmitted intravaginally. In video footage (shown below), the fetus can be seen moving its mouth and tongue, as if it were trying to speak or sing.
Researchers noted that the study could be useful for ruling out fetal deafness, since music stimulates the part of the brain connected to communication. Upon hearing the sound, a healthy fetus responds with movements similar to vocalization.
Interestingly, this study has shown that babies can begin to learn before they’re born.
“We are aware of and recognize the importance of talking to babies from the moment they are born to promote neurological stimulation,” researchers wrote on the Institut Marques website.
“Now we have the amazing opportunity to do this much sooner, which is a huge advance," they added.
The experiment was carried out on pregnant 100 women between the 14th and 39th week of pregnancy. The researches played Johann Sebastian Bach’s "Partita in A Minor" for all of the fetuses through a device called a Babypod, which The Inquisitr likened to a "musical tampon."
Almost half of all fetuses in the experiment made spontaneous head and limb movements while the music played. Thirty percent moved their mouths or tongues and 10 percent stuck their tongues out. Many of these movements stopped when the transvaginal music stopped.
The researchers noted that there were no noticeable changes in fetal facial expression when they played the music through headphones placed over the pregnant woman's belly.
Photo Credit: Institut Marques