Fetal learning

Here is a picture of a younger me listening to my mother read a passage from a Yeats’ poem:

       While still I may, I write for you

       the love I lived, the dreams I knew.


I saw a report last week of just such a study.  The mother read a bit of verse and after a few weeks  a different woman read the verse while the fetus was monitored.  I checked around the web and saw that this methodology was being developed and used in a variety of ways.  The measured response of the fetus is its heart beat; does it stay the same or accelerate, which is presumed associated with stimulus ‘rejection’ (no further process is forthcoming) or does the heart beat decelerate, presumed to indicate stimulus ‘admission’ for further processing (perhaps like a few months later after birth and the infant manifests a quiet alert state, my favorite).  Indeed, late term fetuses showed a ‘learning effect’ for the verse when spoken by the non-mother as indicated by a decelerated heart beat, once evaluated for statistical significance.  I don’t know if they had the other female read a passage from Proust as a baseline in order to test if the reaction was just in response to a feminine voice.

This reminds me of the HAS methodology used back in the day.  HAS is High Amplitude Suck, wherein young infants who were ostensibly calm and sucking in their a nice relaxing manner while listening to pu-pu-pu-pu-pu etc, when instead of pu the tape says bu, as in pu-pu-pu-bu-pu-pu etc.  That the infant sucked harder when he or she heard bu in the series suggested their perceptual system was sensitive to voice onset timing with the lips opening of a few hundreths of a second.  I thought that was really significant when I first read about it.  And still do though a professor in grad school knew some details of the research.  The infants involved were very hard to test and gain consistent results; many trials were thrown out and many subjects were excluded from statistical analysis because of their anomalous results.  I learned something important about science that day.

Back on 4/7/14 (and every now and then since) I posted about the MEMBRAIN.  Once you understand that the brain is a MEMBRAIN that surrounds the mind, many things fall into place.  The MEMBRAIN like any membrane performs 4 functions, keeping things in and out, admitting things in and out, for our interiority.  The heartbeat methodology in this way shows the MEMBRAIN functioning to keep some information out and admit some in as when it is recognized (what is perceived as new is recognized as old and thus processed further).  Humans like other organisms have specialized channels for this.

In case you did not recognize the verse above, here is some more of the passage:

From our birthday until we die

is but the blinking of an eye,

and we, our singing and our love,

what measurer time has lit above,

and all benighted things that go

about my table to and fro,

are passing on to where may be,

in truth’s consuming ecstasy,

no place for love and dreams at all.

for god goes by with white foot fall.

Now do you remember?

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