Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Most sensory systems (auditory, tactile, olfactory, gustatory, motor, vestibular, proprioceptive) begin to function long before birth. The fetus is also capable of basic cognition (attention, memory, association, pattern recognition) and sensitive to emotion (biochemical and behavioral correlates). Abilities and behaviors that are based on these sensations, cognitions, and emotions have prenatal origins. Can prenatal psychology explain the origins of music? From about 20 weeks’ gestation, the fetus perceives the internal sounds of the mother’s body and her body movements. These behavioral patterns correlate with changes in hormone concentrations reflecting maternal physical and emotional states. The fetus may connect behavioral stimuli with biochemical stimuli by classical conditioning, motivated by the adaptive value of the mother schema—the baby’s multisensory perception of its mother. This theory can explain why music evokes strong emotions and why infants have adult-like sensitivity to musical structures, although music has no clear survival or reproductive value.

Keywords: prenatal, origin, emotion, fetus, conditioning

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.