May 2016 -- A study just identified that the child’s brain hears his mother’s voice differently than all other voices. That’s right, the mother’s voice engages more brain circuits in her child’s brain than other’s voices do.
The Stanford University School of Medicine is the first to evaluate brain scans of children listening to their mothers’ voices. Their findings are incredible.
Brain regions that respond more strongly to the mother’s voice extend beyond auditory areas to include those involved in emotion and reward processing, social functions, detection of what is personally relevant 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.”
MRI scanning was done as children listened to voices of mothers, one of which was their own.
Even from very short clips, less than a second long, the children could identify their own mothers’ voices with greater than 97 percent accuracy.
Researchers were surprised to learn just how many regions of the brain are effected by a mother’s voice. “The regions that were more engaged by the voices of the children’s own mothers than by the control voices included auditory regions, such as the primary auditory cortex; regions of the brain that handle emotions, such as the amygdala; brain regions that detect and assign value to rewarding stimuli, such as the mesolimbic reward pathway and medial prefrontal cortex; regions that process information about the self, including the default mode network; and areas involved in perceiving and processing the sight of faces.”
Children whose brains showed a stronger degree of connection between all these regions when hearing their mom’s voice also had the strongest social communication ability, suggesting that increased brain connectivity between the regions is a neural fingerprint for greater social communication abilities in children.
We have known for decades that children can recognize and prefer their mother’s voice over others, but this research now not only proves it, but explains just why this is!
Now if only my kids would actually LISTEN to me....
Read more about how this new information may change how research is performed in relation to child on the autism spectrum: The Full Article.