You can expect sales and downloads of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita in A Minor for Flute Alone – BWV 1013 to dramatically increase following news of research findings of how unborn children first begin to hear and react to music.

Researchers at the Institut Marquès, a gynaecology and fertility clinic in Barcelona, Spain chose the music to play to fetuses as part of their study into when a fetus first responds to sounds, particularly music.

They found an unborn baby will respond to music at just 16 weeks, not the previously thought 23 weeks.

By playing the music through a special sound emitting device inserted into the mother’s vagina, the researchers found fetuses first started hearing and responding to the musical stimulus by opening their mouths and sticking out their tongues, making “vocalisation movements”.

Principal researcher, Dr Marisa López-Teijón says, “We have discovered that the formula for fetuses to hear like us is to emit music from the mother’s vagina. They barely hear the sound that reaches them through their mother’s abdomen: the soft tissues of the abdomen and the inside of the mother’s body absorb the sound waves,”

“We can say that learning begins in the womb. For the first time, we have been able to communicate with the fetus. From the 16th week, it is capable of responding to musical stimuli,” says López-Teijón.
Alberto Prats, professor of anatomy and human embryology at the University of Barcelona says “We believe that the music induces a response through vocalisation movements because it activates brain circuits that stimulate language and communication.”

As well as proving when a fetus begins to hear sounds, the music emitting device also enables doctors to rule out fetal deafness, makes ultrasound scans easier and reduces stress levels of parents during pregnancy.

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