A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Montreal is suggesting that infants could be calmed down for a longer duration when they were made to listen to a song that they didn’t even know compared to when they were made to listen to a speech.

Prof. Isabelle Peretz, a representative of University of Montreal’s Center for Research on Brain, Music & Language, said that a number of studies so far have tried to find the effects of speech and singing on infants’ attention, but this study was carried out with the aim of determining how speech and singing affect an infant’s emotional self-control.

Prof. Peretz added that infants obviously don’t have emotional self-control and said that the findings of the study have allowed them to believe that singing assist children and babies to develop this aptitude.

The findings of this new study, conducted on 30 healthy infants aged between 6 and 9 months, were published recently in the journal Infancy.

Humans are known for being captivated by music. In older children and adults, the liking for music is displayed as behaviors such as head-nodding, drumming, and foot-tapping. Prof. Peretz explained that infants don’t synchronize their actions with music probably because they lack the physical and/or mental ability for doing so.

According to Prof Peretz, during the study, the researchers tried to find out whether babies possess the mental ability of being fond of music. They found that babies did get carried away by the music, which indicates that they possess the mental ability of being entertained.

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To make sure that the babies’ reaction to music didn’t get influenced by any other factor like sensitivity to their mom’s voice, the researchers adopted a range of measures. Both the song and speech the babies were made to listen were in Turkish; this was done to ensure that the language and song were unfamiliar to the little ones.

The researchers also made sure that the babies participating in the study weren’t exposed to any other stimulus. Even their parents were asked to sit behind them to ensure their facial expressions don’t end up influencing the infants. Additionally, instead of being exposed to any live performance, the babies were made to listen to recorded songs and speech. This ensures that there were no social interaction between the child and the performer.