A Mother’s Voice Can Illuminate The Brain

Less than one second. That’s how long it takes children to recognize their mother’s voice. And that voice lights a child’s brain up like a Christmas tree. * A new study from Stanford University School of Medicine studied how children reacted to mom’s voice compared to a woman they didn’t know. Kids were not only more engaged by mom’s voice than a stranger’s, scientists found, but this response was noted beyond just auditory areas of the brain. * Parts of the brain related to emotion, reward processing, facial recognition and social functioning are also amped by hearing from mom. In short, a child’s ability to communicate socially is in a large way affected by how he or she reacts to mom’s voice. * The fact that so many parts of the brain lit up after hearing from mom was the real surprise for scientists, said Vinod Menon, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the study’s senior author. * This reaction to dear old mom’s voice may stretch beyond childhood. A study back in 2010 suggested that teenagers going through a stressful time were almost instantly soothed by hearing mom’s voice on the phone, because the conversation helped reduce a key stress hormone and released oxytocin, a feel-good brain chemical believed to play a role in forming bonds. (CNN.com/health)