Chuck Colson’s BreakPoint reports on a sequence from the PBS documentary The Music Instinct: Science and Song:
The program was an exploration of, among other things, music’s “biological, emotional and psychological impact on humans.”Part of this “exploration” included how music affects babies. If we are, as some scientists believe, “wired for music,” then babies are ideal test subjects since their reactions are, by definition, instinctual.
Part of this research involved the effect of music on fetuses. While we knew that mothers often sing to their unborn children, we weren’t sure that the unborn child could hear them.
We are now. A segment of The Music Instinct featured Sheila C. Woodward of the University of Southern California, who has studied fetal responses to music. A camera and a microphone designed for underwater use were inserted into the uterus of a pregnant woman. And then Woodward sang.
The hydrophone picked up two sounds: the “whooshing” of the uterine artery and the unmistakable sound of a woman singing a lullaby.
Then something extraordinary happened. Upon hearing the woman’s voice, the unborn child smiled.
It was one of those moments that makes you catch your breath. The full humanity of the fetus could not have been clearer if he had turned to the camera and winked.
Apparently, fetal responses to music aren’t limited to smiling. They have been observed moving their hands in response to music, almost as if conducting. They have been soothed by Vivaldi and disturbed by loud tracks from Beethoven. They have even responded “rhythmically to rhythms tapped on [their] mother’s belly.”
The commentary laments that Woodward’s research is not available on the website for the program, and suggests that the pro-choice worldview of PBS blinded them to the significance of this portion of the program. I don’t know for sure, but I’m glad that BreakPoint put this out there for people to see. I hope that I can watch the program sometime.
Has anyone else seen it?
© 2009, Scott Kistler. All rights reserved.