Fetal memory: Does it exist? what does it do?

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70 Citations (Scopus)


Whether fetal memory exists has attracted interest for many thousands of years. The following review draws on recent experimental evidence to consider two questions: does the fetus have a memory? And, if so, what function(s) does it serve? Evidence from fetal learning paradigms of classical conditioning, habituation and exposure learning reveal that the fetus does have a memory. By comparison little attention has been paid to the possible function of memory. Possible functions discussed are: practice, recognition of and attachment to the mother, promotion of breastfeeding, and language acquisition. It is concluded that the fetus does possess a memory but that more attention to the functions of fetal memory will guide future studies of fetal memory abilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-20
Number of pages5
JournalActa Paediatrica
Issue numbers416
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1996


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