Research Says Mom's Voice Lights Up a Child's Brain

By Sandy Schroeder

If you are a mom there are some things that you just know. One of those things is the impact your voice can have on your child. Most moms learn quite early that they can soothe a crying child just by talking or singing to them.

But now researchers say this link to a mother’s voice could help to understand brain activity in teens and children with autism.

Future Social Implications

Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine said the children who responded the most to their mothers’ voices were also the ones with the best communication abilities.

The Stanford University researchers say a mother’s voice triggers a response in many areas of the brain, including emotions, hearing, rewards, and self-information.  It was also confirmed that only the mother’s voice activates the response. Other voices do not.

Using brain scans, the researchers studied 24 children between the ages of 7 and 12. They found the children had a 97 percent accuracy in identifying their own mother’s voice. The children were all being raised by their biological mothers and were in the normal IQ range.

Future Teen, Autism Research

The researchers said these findings could lead to more studies in autism, where children have trouble relating to others and communicating with them. They are also considering studies on teens to see if the effect of the mother’s voice changes as children grow up.

If you have a teen, you probably have some thoughts on this. When they became teens, I sometimes felt like I was talking to the wall! Clearly, my impact changed.

If you are a mom, you might be watching for more studies like these. As children grow we see all sorts of imprints, from the books that we read to them, the trips they take, and the music that they hear. Sometimes we see little effect, and sometimes they surprise us with how much they remember. The more we know about the process, the easier it can be to keep the communication channels open and working.

I learned that if I had to be away, I could call home and when they heard my voice they would listen and then settle down, having been reassured that I would be back soon.

I also learned how quickly they could pick up the meaning in the tone of my voice.  When I arrived home to find a chaotic scene, I could quickly read my children’s faces as they knew by the tone of my voice how much trouble they were in.

The funniest memory from my time as a mom occurred one morning as I was walking down the hall to their rooms, and I heard them say, “We’ll wait until she has had her coffee to tell her about this!” They were just 3 and 4 and they had already imagined my reaction and my tone of voice!

Follow the research and enjoy every minute with your kids. As you know, every day is different.


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