Mother’s Voice Produces Strong Reaction in Child’s Brain

July 24, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. trigger / ˈtrɪg ər / (v.) – to cause something to happen
Example: Excessive consumption of sweet food can trigger serious diseases such as diabetes.

2. recognition / ˌrɛk əgˈnɪʃ ən / (n.) – the act of knowing or identifying someone
Example: The researchers examined how children learn face recognition.

3. nonsensical / nɒnˈsɛn sɪ kəl / (adj.) – having no meaning
Example: Kids often use nonsensical words at a very young age.

4. accurately / ˈæk yər ɪt li / (adv.) – describing something that is free from mistakes or errors
Example: The child can accurately name countries when shown pictures of flags.

5. shape / ʃeɪp / (v.) – to form or improve something
Example: Parents are the ones who shape children’s minds before school.


Read the text below.
A mother’s voice produces a stronger reaction in her child’s brain compared to the voice of other mothers, researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine claim.

A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that a connection between a mother’s voice and her child’s brain activity exists. After analyzing brain scans from 24 children, aged 7 to 12, the researchers found that some brain regions triggered by their mothers’ voices include those controlling emotions, reward processing, social functioning, and facial recognition.

Before the experiment, the scientists recorded the voice of the children’s mothers saying three nonsensical words. They also recorded voices of two other mothers—the strangers—whose children are not involved in the study. Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), the children’s brains were scanned while they listened to the voice recordings of either their mothers or the strangers.

Results show that 97% of the time, the children accurately recognized their mother’s voices even when hearing clips less than a second long. The researchers were also surprised that, besides the area of the child’s brain that processes hearing, parts responsible for social communication were also affected by the mother’s voice.

According to the study’s lead author Daniel Abrams, listening to mom’s voice shapes most of a child’s social, language, and emotional processes. However, not much information is available about how a child’s brain reacts to someone else’s mother’s voice.

Vinod Menon, a psychiatry and behavioral sciences professor and the study’s senior author, said that the study is an important starting point for further investigations into social communication.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What are the possible benefits of this research?
·         Do you think a father’s effect on his child should also be studied? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Aside from family, what else is important to a child’s growth?
·         How can society ensure that children without families are guided well while growing up?

July 24, 2016