The footage was part of a recent PBS special, The Music Instinct:
Science & Song. The program was an exploration of, among other things,
music’s “biological, emotional and psychological impact on humans.”
Part of this “exploration” included how music affects babies. If we
are, as some scientists believe, “wired for music,” then babies are ideal test
subjects since their reactions are, by definition, instinctual.
Part of this research involved the effect of music on fetuses.
While we knew that mothers often sing to their unborn children, we weren’t sure
that the unborn child could hear them.
We are now. A segment of The Music Instinct featured Sheila C. Woodward of the University of Southern California, who has studied fetal responses to music. A camera and a microphone designed for underwater use were inserted into the uterus of a pregnant woman. And then Woodward sang.
The hydrophone picked up two sounds: the “whooshing” of the uterine
artery and the unmistakable sound of a woman singing a lullaby.
Then something extraordinary happened. Upon hearing the woman’s
voice, the unborn child smiled.
It was one of those moments that makes you catch your breath. The
full humanity of the fetus could not have been clearer if he had turned to the
camera and winked.
Apparently, fetal responses to music aren’t limited to smiling. They have been observed moving their hands in response to music, almost as if conducting. They have been soothed by Vivaldi and disturbed by loud tracks from Beethoven. They have even responded “rhythmically to rhythms tapped on [their] mother’s belly.”
Read the rest here. Thrilling...and powerful!