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Babies in the womb react to mom’s voice

Babies in the womb respond to their mothers’ voice, even paying attention when they’re read a story, a new study has found.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University in US asked 74 women who were 36 weeks pregnant to read for two minutes while their babies’ heart rate and movements were monitored.

They found babies stopped moving and lowered their heart rate when their mother started reading aloud to them, study lead author Kristin Voegtline said.

“It is quite fascinating how the foetus learns to recognise and react to the mother’s voice before prior to birth - here, we showed that they can detect onset of maternal voice and differences in maternal voice,” she said.

“Some women were napping prior to asking them to read aloud from a passage - these foetuses showed a brief startle to onset of maternal voice,” she said.

Voegtline said the heart rate of foetuses lowered and movement stopped when mothers switched from chatting to reading aloud, the ‘Herald Sun’ reported.

“The near-term foetus has a mature auditory system that reliably detects and responds to sound,” she said.

280 new moon craters identified

Using ultra-high resolution mapping techniques, scientists from Australia have identified 280 craters on the moon that have never been mapped before.

The researchers at Curtin University in Western Australia used computer modelling of lunar gravity and topography data to explore detailed basins that would be obscured using other methods, Xinhua reported.

A total of 66 of the craters identified were described as “distinctly visible” from a gravity and topographic view.

Will Featherstone, professor at Curtin’s Institute for Geoscience Research, said curiosity drove the scientists to extend their original search from the identification of two basins on the lunar far side to the entire surface of the Moon. Such an undertaking did not come without difficulties.
New drug may reverse memory loss in Alzheimer’s

In a breakthrough, researchers have developed the first experimental drug to boost brain synapses lost in Alzheimer’s disease, which may reverse memory loss.

The drug created by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, called NitroMemantine, combines two FDA-approved medicines to stop the destructive cascade of changes in the brain that destroys the connections between neurons, leading to memory loss and cognitive decline.

The decade-long study, led by Stuart A Lipton, professor and director of the Del E Webb Center for Neuroscience, Aging, and Stem Cell Research, shows that NitroMemantine can restore synapses, representing the connections between nerve cells (neurons) that have been lost during the progression of Alzheimer’s in the brain, medicalxpress.com reported.

 The focus on a downstream target to treat Alzheimer’s, rather than on amyloid beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles - approaches which have shown little success - “is very exciting because everyone is now looking for an earlier treatment of the disease,” Lipton said.

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