Health Discoveries in General Health News

Fears are learned quickly by babies

January 27, 2011
A pediatrics study at Rutgers University found that children's fears are learned, not innate, but they are learned very quickly.

When researchers showed videos - one of a snake, the other of an elephant - to children as young as seven months while they listened to either a happy or a fearful voice. They spent more time watching the snake video when they heard a fearful voice.

Published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science, the study also found that children age 3 who were afraid of snakes chose them from a selection of photos as quickly as children who were not afraid of snakes.

"What we're suggesting is that we have these biases to detect things like snakes and spiders really quickly, and to associate them with things that are yucky or bad, like a fearful voice," said Rutgers researcher Vanessa LoBue.

Among the pediatric clinical trials within the North Shore-LIJ Health System is a study on how live music affects babies. Lullabies, as well as heart and womb sounds, are played for premature infants, who have responded positively based on initial data.
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