Music is an emotional language, stimulating and regulating our emotions. For example, research shows that a college student listens to music 37% of her time, and 64% of these sessions are filled with euphoria, uplifting, and nostalgia.
Children may be more exposed to music than adults. According to survey data, he 54% of Korean teachers use her background music at school. We also know that in US classrooms, music is played to him 6.5 times per hour to help children learn.
But how early do children develop a real appreciation and understanding of music? Our recent study, published in Psychological Studies, suggests that newborns can be quite musical, and that music is particularly happy. has been shown to be soothing.
This may seem surprising. After all, culture plays a big role in when and how we understand music. Music is what we learn. For example, preschoolers often cannot combine pictures of happy or sad faces with happy or sad music. Such abilities usually develop later in childhood.
It has long been unknown whether newborns and young children experience emotions in music. However, newborns are known to respond to aspects of music such as beat, structure, consonance and dissonance.
Young infants also love “mothers”, a very musical, melodic and slow type of speech that adults often employ when talking to babies. Even babies born to hearing but deaf parents (who do not speak in this way) pay attention to such speech and maternal songs.
Some studies suggest that even fetuses seem to respond to music. One study showed that listening to a favorite song during the 28th week of pregnancy increased the fetal heart rate even though the mother’s heart rate did not change.
However, other studies have failed to find such a response in fetuses.Music is often tried to help premature babies in neonatal intensive care units. However, only half of the 10 most rigorous studies of neonates in intensive care units found behavioral responses to music, including crying, stress and pain relief. And only half of the studies found an effect on heart rate or blood pressure.
That said, few studies have examined how healthy term infants respond to music. And no studies have examined how they respond to the emotions of music.
happiness calms down
Our team investigated how music affects healthy neonates carried to term. First, I wanted to choose a really happy song and a really sad song.
Two experimenters collected and listened to hundreds of lullabies and nursery rhymes and chose 25 songs that they thought were happy or sad. Only six of these were sung in English by him (Simple Simon, Humpty Dumpty, Hey Diddle Diddle, Little Miss Muffet, Ding Dong Bell, Little Bo Beep), but the others were sung in various languages. was
A total of 16 adult participants helped rate the emotional content of 25 songs. The French lullaby titled Fais Dodo (by Alexandra Montano and Ruth Cunningham) was found to be the saddest, while the German song Das singende Känguru (by Volker Rosin) was ranked the happiest.
In the first experiment, these two songs were played in random order and included a silent control period with 32 babies. We also analyzed how 20 behaviors, such as crying, yawning, sucking, sleeping, and limb movements, changed each millisecond between music and silence. did.
In a second experiment, we recorded the heart rate of 66 newborns while listening to these two songs or silence.
Perhaps the most striking result is that babies began to fall asleep when they were listening to fun music, but not when they were listening to sad or no music. They also showed a decrease in heart rate when listening to joyful music, but not during sad music or quiet periods.
In response to both happy and sad music, babies also moved their eyes less frequently and paused longer between movements compared to periods of silence. This could mean that both types of music have a calming effect on babies compared to no music, but happy music was the best.
Our results suggest that newborns respond to musical emotions in this way and that the response to music is present at birth. Previously, we studied fetuses and found that mid- and late-gestation fetuses respond when their mothers talk. Your baby’s response to music may be preformed.
Traditionally, lullabies are sung by caretakers, usually mothers. Such songs are very personal and emotional. Mothers who come to our lab often say that long-forgotten lullabies they heard from their mother or her grandmother are suddenly remembered while singing to their baby.
A mother’s emotions when singing a song can shape a baby’s reaction to music. Even in a healthy baby, on average she cries about two hours a day for the first few weeks of life, so soothing interventions are always needed.
Healing through music played or sung has spread throughout the world and through the ages, and for good reason. Babies are born with an innate musicality and are sensitive to music. And now, it turns out that it’s happy, vibrant, fast music that resonates particularly well with their psychological and physical rhythms.