TitleThe Effects Of Prenatal Exposure To Music

Title:The Effects Of Prenatal Exposure To Music On Children’s IntelligenceIntroduction: Essay, Research Paper

The experiment that I wish to conduct is the effect of prenatal exposure to audio stimulation on a child’s overall intelligence. There have been many studies over the past decade about the relationship between music and intelligence. Emily P. Cary (1987) discovered a correlation between gifted students and music. Students who were exposed to classical music at a young age had better coordination skills, mental ability, and problem solving ability in comparison to those that did not have the exposure to music at a young age.Psychologists have traditionally accepted that memory begins at approximately years of age. However, with the advent of ultrasounds, in uteri monitors, and fiber optics televisions, there has been significant evidence that learning begins in the womb. In 1982, Dr. Brent Logan (1995) developed the pre-learning theory, which will be used in the experiment that I wish to conduct.Dr. Brent (1995) suggested that toward the end of gestation, there is a continual loss of fetal brain cells. The loss of brain cells consists after birth, but ceases at an unspecified time in the months after a child is born. Dr. Logan wanted to see if there was a way in which the brain cell loss can be slowed after birth. Dr. Logan conducted an experiment with twelve infants in 1986. Over a period of three years, he exposed the infants to sonic stimulation daily. He found that the group of children that were stimulated after birth had better memories and coordination when compared to those that did not have sonic stimulation. Based on this experiment, the loss of brain cells is considered a natural phenomenon, yet with sonic stimulation and environmental enrichment, the brain cells did not die, but increased neurology within the experimental group.One of the most cited researchers on prenatal stimulation is the psychologist Beartiz Manrique. Dr. Manrique conducted an experiment in Caracas, Venezuela called “Project Family.” She was one of the first doctors to test Dr. Logan’s pre-learning on fetuses instead of infants. The “Project Family” has been the largest experiment of its kind. It consisted of 680 families. The 680 families were divided into control groups and experimental groups. The goal of the study was to test the pre-learning theory, and to analyze the relationship between stimulation in uterus babies and child development, family integration, health and education.The study population consisted of Venezuelan mothers between the ages of 18 and 26. The participants had to all be first time mothers, of the same socio-economic status, and had to have an obstetrician certify their pregnancy as healthy. The women also had to commit to frequent visits to a selected OB-GYN to record the progression of the pregnancy and the fetus.The participants were actually divided into four groups, two experimental groups, and two control groups. The experimental group had to perform a prenatal program, neonatal program designed by Dr, Manrique and other specialists. The mothers of the infants also had to make subsequent visits to the doctor until the child reached the age of six years old.Dr. Manrique found from birth, there was a difference between the babies born in the experimental group and those that were born in the control group. Babies from the experimental group were more alert, attempted to turn their heads at the sound of their parents’ voices over all ambient noises, and they recognized music that was played while they were still in the womb. Babies that had been prenatally stimulated also seemed to be more social. Overall, the children that received prenatal stimulation did better at the activities that Dr. Manrique had provided to test her subjects. The deliberate audio stimulation ended once the children reached one year of age, but the children were observed continuously until they reached the age of six.


The purpose of my experiment would be to apply Dr. Logan’s pre-learning theory to infants at the 16th week of gestation as well as the 27th week of gestation. Most research on prenatal infant stimulation has been conducted at the 27th week of gestation. (Logan 1995) This is the period when Dr. Manrique conducted her experiment as well. Since fetuses begin to develop the sense of hearing around the 16th week of gestation, it would be interesting to see if the fetal brain cell death could be stopped earlier, therefore further increasing intelligence in children, relative to the children who were exposed to audio stimulation at the 27th week of gestation. By beginning with fetuses as young as 16 weeks, the pre learning theory may be revised to include fetuses as young as 16 or 17 weeks. The hypothesis that I intend to test is that pre natal infants at the 17th week of gestation exposed to audio stimulation in the form of classical music will have better cognitive ability than those fetuses exposed toward the end of gestation. I also hypothesize that those children prenatally stimulated will have better cognitive skills when compared to children that have not been stimulated.

Experimental Design, Measurement of variables

For the experiment, I need 80 women to participate in the study. These women will be divided into a control group and experimental group. The groups will then be subdivided again to create two experimental groups and two control groups. There will be twenty women per group. Both experimental groups will have their fetuses exposed to audio stimulation, in the form of classical music for 40 minutes a day. The women in experimental group A will begin stimulation at the 17th week of gestation, and the women in experimental group B will begin their fetal stimulation at the 27th week of gestation. The women will record their daily stimulation and fetal activity in a journal. The women in the control group will be asked to keep a journal as well. On a bi weekly basis, the women in all groups will visit the research center to give their journals to the lab staff. The staff will perform an ultra sound to observe the fetuses of all groups to observe the movements of the fetuses.Measurement of intelligence will consist of three sets of test given every six months until the children reach the age of six. Each sets of test will correspond to the appropriate age. There will be tests for the neonatal period, the infant period, and the toddler period and the early childhood period. Over the testing period the researcher will need to use both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis to determine the effects, and if possible, to what degree does classical music stimulation have an effect on the overall intelligence of children participating in the experiment from ages 0 to 6 years old.The women who participate in this experiment must be U.S. citizens as well as be married. They must be pregnant with their first child. The women should also be between the ages of 23 and 30. The participants must have their pregnancy certified as healthy by their own doctor, as well as doctors participating in this particular experiment. All families participating in this experiment should be in the middle-income range, as determined by the Internal Revenue Service scale of income ranking.This is a between groups experiment. The independent variable is the prenatal gestation period at the 17th and 27th weeks of gestation. The second independent variable is whether the fetus receives audio stimulation. The dependent variable is the level of intelligence, measured through tests. Some variables that may affect the outcome of the experiment are maternal stress. Pregnancies can be aggravated by stress caused by a high stress job or other personal problems such as stressful personal relationships. Another confounding variable is that some fetuses may have genetic or intellectual defects that may not be detectable until after birth. The control variables are the participants because they all meet the same criteria. There is also the same number of participants in the control groups and the experimental groups.

ReferencesCary,P.( 1987). Music as a Prenatal and Early Impetus to Enhancing Cognitive Skills. Roeger Review, 9, 155-158Logan, Brent(1995) Fetal Sonic Stimulation, Royal College of General Practitioners, Office Reference Book, LondonManrique, Beatriz Proyecto Familia, Summary and Translation http://www.2bparent.com/research.html.


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