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The Sound Environment of the Foetal Sheep

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The sound environment of the foetal lamb was recorded using a hydrophone implanted a few weeks before term in a small number of pregnant ewes. It was implanted inside the amniotic sac and sutured loosely to the foetal neck, to move with the foetus. Results differ from those reported earlier for the human foetus: sounds from the maternal cardiovascular system were picked up only rarely, at very low frequencies and at sound pressures around, or below, the human auditory threshold. Other sounds from within the mother occurred intermittently and rose to a high sound pressure only at frequencies above about 300 Hz. Sounds from outside the mother were picked up by the implanted hydrophone when the external sound level rose above 65-70 dB SPL, and the attenuation in sound pressure was rarely more than 30 dB and, especially at low frequencies, usually much less. However, attenuation due to the transmission of sound through the body wall and other tissues tended to change from time to time. It is concluded that the foetal lamb's sound environment consists of (1) intermittent low frequency sounds associated largely with the ewe's feeding and digestive processes and (2) sounds such as vocalisations from the flock, human voices and other sounds from outside the mother.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Animal Physiology, University of Cambridge, England; 2: (Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, England


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