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The functional foetal brain : a systematic preview of methodological factors in reporting foetal visual and auditory capacity.

Dunn, K. and Reissland, N. and Reid, V. (2015) 'The functional foetal brain : a systematic preview of methodological factors in reporting foetal visual and auditory capacity.', Developmental cognitive neuroscience., 13 . pp. 43-52.


Due to technological advancements in functional brain imaging, foetal brain responses to visual and auditory stimuli is a growing area of research despite being relatively small with much variation between research laboratories. A number of inconsistencies between studies are, nonetheless, present in the literature. This article aims to explore the potential contribution of methodological factors to variation in reports of foetal neural responses to external stimuli. Some of the variation in reports can be explained by methodological differences in aspects of study design, such as brightness and wavelength of light source. In contrast to visual foetal processing, auditory foetal processing has been more frequently investigated and findings are more consistent between different studies. This is an early preview of an emerging field with many articles reporting small sample sizes with techniques that are yet to be replicated. We suggest areas for improvement for the field as a whole, such as the standardisation of stimulus delivery and a more detailed reporting of methods and results. This will improve our understanding of foetal functional response to light and sound. We suggest that enhanced technology will allow for a more reliable description of the developmental trajectory of foetal processing of light stimuli.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Foetus, Visual perception, Auditory perception, fMRI, fMEG.
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Publisher statement:© 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (
Date accepted:03 April 2015
Date deposited:01 June 2015
Date of first online publication:June 2015
Date first made open access:No date available

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