(NaturalPath) According to a study out of the Stanford University Medical Center and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers found that more regions of children’s brains are activated when they hear their mothers’ voice than when they hear the voices of other women. They found that it isn’t just the auditory areas of the brain that activate but also 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 the lead researcher. “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.”
Previous studies have shown that babies prefer their mother’s voices, but the mechanism behind the preference had never been defined. Another researcher said, “Nobody had really looked at the brain circuits that might engaged. We wanted to know: Is it just auditory and voice-selective areas that respond differently, or is it more broad in terms of engagement, emotional reactivity and detection of salient stimuli?”
The study included 24 children who were age seven to 12. Each child had an IQ of at least 80, none had any developmental disorders, and all were being raised by their biological mothers. Even from short clips of nonsense words (in order to not activate other parts of the brain) the children could identify their own mothers’ voices with greater than 97 percent accuracy.
The researchers noted that this study showed the biological circuitry underlying the fact that hearing their mother’s voice can be an important source of emotional comfort to children.
Interestingly, the researchers said, “Children whose brains showed a stronger degree of connection between all these regions that activated 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 great social communication abilities in children.”
Razi Berry, Founder and Publisher of Naturopathic Doctor News & Review (ndnr.com) and NaturalPath (thenatpath.com), has spent the last decade as a natural medicine advocate and marketing whiz. She has galvanized and supported the naturopathic community, bringing a higher quality of healthcare to millions of North Americans through her publications. A self-proclaimed health-food junkie and mother of two; she loves all things nature, is obsessed with organic gardening, growing fruit trees (not easy in Phoenix), laughing until she snorts, and homeschooling. She is a little bit crunchy and yes, that is her real name.