26 February 2013

New evidence of in-utero language development.

A step away from the education side of things now, and back towards language.

I just saw an intriguing article on the BBC News website, reporting on a paper recently published by a French research team.  It's long been believed that babies start to learn to discriminate sounds while in the womb, given that the ear is fully developed by 23 weeks.  Babies ability to discrimate sounds can only be measured by brain scans (because you can't ask them if they can here the difference) but you can't do a scan while the baby is still in the womb (cos you've got to stick a wee cap on their heads.  So the researchers took premature newborns and carried out the usual tests for phoneme discrimination, and they found something.  Not a lot, but it definitely supports the claims that language learning starts before birth.

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