Mom’s Voice May Activate Many Regions in a Child’s Brain Listen to your mother: Her voice engaged your brain as a child far more than the voices of unfamiliar women, suggests new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine. Although plenty of previous research has shown children’s preference for their own mother’s voice, the researchers sought to show how ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   August 01, 2016
Mom’s Voice May Activate Many Regions in a Child’s Brain
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Speech, Voice & Prosody / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   August 01, 2016
Mom’s Voice May Activate Many Regions in a Child’s Brain
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.21082016.14
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB1.21082016.14
Listen to your mother: Her voice engaged your brain as a child far more than the voices of unfamiliar women, suggests new research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Although plenty of previous research has shown children’s preference for their own mother’s voice, the researchers sought to show how mothers’ voices affect brain circuits. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“Many of our social, language and emotional processes are learned by listening to our mom’s voice,” says lead author Daniel Abrams, instructor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford. “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.”
Using magnetic resonance imaging on 24 participants ages 7 to 12, Abrams and his team found that a mother’s voice extensively engaged many areas of her child’s brain beyond auditory areas, including regions involved in emotional processing, reward detection, processing of information about the self, and facial recognition.
As their brains were scanned, the young participants heard recordings of nonsense words, spoken by their mother and by other women they had never met. The children in the study whose scans showed stronger degrees of connection within the engaged regions of the brain also were the strongest social communicators, according to questionnaires filled out by the mothers.
The study’s authors say they plan to conduct similar studies to investigate the effect of mothers’ voices on children with autism and as people grow into adulthood.
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August 2016
Volume 21, Issue 8