MRI study explores effects of mom’s voice on child’s brain

While it comes as no surprise that MRI scans reveal powerful activity in infants’ brains upon hearing the voices of their mothers, scientists were looking for more specific information. “Many of our social, language and emotional processes are learned by listening to our mom’s voice,” said study author Daniel Abrams. “But surprisingly little is known about how the brain organizes itself around this very important sound source.”

The Stanford researchers used MRI to scan the brains of 24 children aged 7-12, and played them recordings of their own mothers reciting nonsensical words. (Two childless women also volunteered as controls). Upon hearing their mothers voices, the brains of the children activated in several different areas:

-primary auditory cortex (sound)

-amygdala (emotions)

-mesolimbic reward pathway and medial prefrontal cortex (assigning values to stimuli)

-default mode network (sense of self)

-and brain regions responsible for processing and recognizing faces

“…surprisingly little is known about how the brain organizes itself around this very important sound source,” said study co-author Vinod Menon. “Nobody had really looked at the brain circuits that might be 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?”

2016-05-18T22:19:43+00:00 May 18th, 2016|Brain MRI|