Age-old fears perk up baby’s ears

Babies react to a snake’s hiss, fire’s crackle and other ancient danger sounds

By Stephen Ornes, 13:25 PM September 23, 2013


A snake’s hiss is creepy enough to give any kid a fright. And a fire’s crackling may signal danger lurks nearby. Children learn to heed such threatening sounds or else risk peril. Fortunately, a new study finds, kids start paying attention to these types of sounds very early — by the time they’re 9 months old.


This response to scary sounds has evolved in children over tens of thousands of years, the authors propose. In their new study, 9-month-old babies responded strongly to the sounds of a...

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