A new study shows that mom's voice can have a long lasting impact on a child's memory.
As a new parent, it has been amazing to watch our son grow and change on a daily basis. As a result of my new role in life, research on child development has become a new staple reading for me. So I was interested when I read the headline of “Mom’s voice activates many different regions in children’s brains, study shows.” There is, in fact, a difference between how our son responds to my voice, my husband’s, and others; now it is starting to make sense.
A new study done by Stanford University School of Medicine found that children’s brains are more engaged by their mother’s voice when compared to other women’s voices. The regions that are mostly affected include auditory areas as well as emotion and reward processing, social function, and face recognition. "Many of our social, language and emotional processes are learned by listening to our mom's voice," said lead author Daniel Abrams, PhD, instructor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences. "But surprisingly little is known about how the brain organizes itself around this very important sound source. We didn't realize that a mother's voice would have such quick access to so many different brain systems."
24 children were involved in the study, ages 7-12, and all were being raised by their biological mothers. Parents filled out questionnaires as well as having the moms record themselves saying three nonsense words. Two other mothers recorded themselves saying the nonsense words as well, and they were used as the control. MRI scanning of the children’s brains was done to evaluate what part of the brain was being affected while they listened to their own mother and the control mothers say the nonsense words. "We know that hearing mother's voice can be an important source of emotional comfort to children," Abrams added. "Here, we're showing the biological circuitry underlying that."
I am interested in seeing where this research will go in the future to help kids. As an aside, professionally, I am also wondering if adopted children can then have this same response to their biological mothers if only having lived with them for a short time? Meaning, is the child’s response something that is hardwired into them from hearing mom’s voice in utero? Also knowing the big influence my voice has on my son makes me step back and consider what I say to him, or around him for that matter, as well as the tone that I am using when I speak. What about my overall body language? His brain is processing all of this information for further understanding, and it is influencing how he will interact with the world.