Careful, your baby can hear you....
Does your sleeping baby know you and your partner are arguing?
According to a recent study, they are most certainly aware of your raised voices and their brains show it.
The latest study questions whether conflict between parents in the presence of their baby is associated with an emotional response in the baby’s brain.
In this study, involving babies 6 to 12-month-old, MRI’s were taken while the bubs were asleep The babies listened to recorded voices reciting nonsense-word sentences in very angry or mildly angry tones versus happy, or neutral vocal tones.
Response to "very angry" speech was compared with neutral voices. The reaction of the baby’s brain was measured as it processed the emotional tone of the voices.
Sleeping infants showed larger brain activations in response to angry voices. Results indicated that when mothers reported conflict involving very angry voices, there was a response in the baby’s brain regions implicated in emotion and stress reactivity and regulation.
These findings suggest that even moderate environmental stress may be associated with brain functioning during infancy.
The findings are also consistent with emerging research showing exposure to higher parental conflict to be associated with an infants behavioral responses and physiological stress reactivity.
Eventually, researchers might uncover even earlier, perhaps intrauterine, impacts of prominent voice tones on fetal brain development.
Parents now know that far from being oblivious, infants, even when sleeping, can be sensitive to the emotional tones of their surroundings.
1. Graham AM et al. What sleeping babies hear: A functional MRI study of interparental conflict and infants' emotion processing. Psychol Sci 2013 May 1; 24:782;
See free abstract
2. Comments by J Yager, MD;