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Babies Hear in Their Sleep

sleepParents may want to be more careful about their conversations when their slumbering children are in earshot. Researchers at the University of Turku in Finland have discovered that babies can hear and possibly even learn in their sleep.

Learning and retaining information in your sleep has always been a fantasy of many struggling college students and some adults. However, the researchers found that this type of learning may be occurring in children. Using a technique called mismatch negativity, which can record the activity of the areas of the brain that are responsible for new learning and memory, scientists were able to measure the infants’ brain response to vowel sounds. They then could measure the brains’ same patterns during the day when they were awake. This synchronistic activity may show that the brain is processing verbal information in a similar manner during periods of sleep and wakefulness.

This study may have implications for our ability to diagnose learning disabilities at an earlier age. The study may also indicate that parents should be careful about swearing or using other unwanted phrases while their children sleep.

Adopted from Nature, Feb 2002