Fetuses found to have memories
by Jennifer Harper
They weigh less than 3 pounds, usually, and are perhaps 15 inches long. But they can remember.
The unborn have memories, according to medical researchers who used sound and vibration stimulation, combined with sonography, to reveal that the human fetus displays short-term memory from at least 30 weeks gestation – or about two months before they are born.
“In addition, results indicated that 34-week-old fetuses are able to store information and retrieve it four weeks later,” said the research, which was released Wednesday.
Scientists from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maastricht University Medical Centre and the University Medical Centre St. Radboud, both in the Netherlands, based their findings on a study of 100 healthy pregnant women and their fetuses with the help of some gentle but precise sensory stimulation.
The team also found that the tiny test subjects actually improved these skills as they grew older, with those who were 34- or 36-weeks old clearly showing that they had become familiar with the hum outside the womb.
“The fetus ‘remembers’ the stimulus and the number of stimuli needed
for the fetus to habituate is then much smaller,” the study said.
“It seems like every day we find out marvelous new things about the development of unborn children. We hope that this latest information helps people realize more clearly that the unborn are members of the human family with amazing capabilities and capacities like these built in from the moment of conception,” said Randall K. O’Bannon, director of education and research for the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.
A call to NARAL Pro-Choice America for comment on the implications of the research were not returned.
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