Infants are fast learners.  Their brains are like sponges, even while they sleep:

Parenting can sometimes make you want to scream, but a new study finds that arguing in front of your baby might sensitize the infant’s brain to stress. Researchers at the University of Oregon found that babies react to angry, argumentative tones of voice, even while they are asleep.

Ashik Siddique discusses the rationale behind a new study:

Graduate student Alice Graham, along with advisors Phil Fisher and Jennifer Pfeifer, decided to investigate how more moderate stressors affect babies’ brain development.

With the help of fMRI brain imaging, they decided to explore the association between babies’ brain functions and a common source of stress in young children’s lives – the sounds of parental arguments.

Few studies have used neuroimaging to examine infant responses to angry voices in particular brain areas. A 2005 study found that infants’ brains devote more attention to angry voices than happy or neutral tones, and a 2010 study suggested that babies are attuned to a voice’s emotional state by seven months. Previous research suggested that parental conflict can decrease infants’ sleep quality and negatively impact children’s emotional well-being.


I would imagine that developing brains would also be affected by loud, violent, and obnoxious noises from TV’s and stereos as well.  (Maybe all the Grateful Dead music my kids heard in-utero — they “went” to a couple of shows before they were born, like this and this — helped them become the mellow gentleman they are!  What if we were Megadeth-heads?)

Can a baby hear and see and taste before they’re born?  This beautiful Hunter lyric suggests they can, at least to me.