The voice of the mother of a newborn triggers a response in the language acquisition circuits of the brain.
Dr. Maryse Lassonde of the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology and the Sainte-Justine University Hospital Research Centre:
“We applied electrodes to the heads of 16 babies while they were sleeping,” Lassonde explained, “and we asked the mother to make the short ‘A’ vowel sound — like in the French word ‘allô.’ We then repeated the exercise with the female nurse who brought the baby to the lab. When the mother spoke, the scans very clearly show reactions in the left-hemisphere of the brain, and in particular the language processing and motor skills circuit. Conversely, when the stranger spoke, the right-hemisphere of the brain reacted. The right-hemisphere is associated with voice recognition.”
How we acquire language is so fascinating. I strongly recommend Alison Gropnik’s The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life, which is one of my favorite books, ever. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the review from Slate.