Fetal Mozart Effect Reworked

Spanish Moss in Paso Robles

It turns out playing Mozart tapes didn’t work to help you pass your math test, score over 1200 on the SATs or destine your kid to greatness although it was rumored that the Georgia Governor proposed giving every Peach state newborn a CD. But brain enhancement enthusiasts haven’t given up. They’re still seen waving their protractors and metronomes at each other on game days while others mull over the less filling or taste great dilemmas they’re figuring the neuronal path to greatness with their on the ‘USE Math!’ no ‘ USE MUSIC!’  chants. Music practice is more than just acquiring a skill of the instrument you have chosen to play. The November 2010 Scientific American references skill acquisition from improved multitasking, to better sound appreciation among the many benefits that studying an instrument will give us. But as a gyno I get asked, what about playing that music by the belly, can we model the fetal mind at say 7 or 8 months?  The literature is mixed. Fetal physiology determinants relies on the heart rate, the movements of the body, the muscle tone, the breathing movements, the state of sleep vs awake and a few other actual tasks. Observed thumb sucking, a kick, a hiccup, urination, and fetal rejections pretty much round out the list of what we observe a fetus to actually “do.”  More complex studies of brain wave patterns of dream states have been reported, but responses that would reliably be called, learned behavior, has not been reported. Fetal magnetoencephalography aims for direct assessment of fetal cortical and brainstem function. The newest toy in the obstetrician’s doctor’s bag, well not in the bag, a bit big for that is a complex magnetic field detectors that records fetal electrocortical signals, and can record fetal brain activity in response to sound and light on the baby bump. This technology may contribute to future clinically important assessments of fetal CNS status. Taking this all a bit farther, we know that certain maternal behaviors (drug use for example) and medical problems (uncontrolled diabetes for another example), and rare cord entanglements or labor issues may have consequences on eventual brain function, and we are constantly looking for the facts, but for me, it was still a bit fun to blast a bit of flute and harp concerto on the way to exams when the kids were young.

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