© 2017

Early Vocal Contact and Preterm Infant Brain Development

Bridging the Gaps Between Research and Practice

  • Manuela Filippa
  • Pierre Kuhn
  • Björn Westrup

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. The Maternal Voice: A Link Between Fetal and Neonatal Period

  3. The NICU Acoustic Environment and the Preterm Infant’s Auditory System Development

  4. The Early Vocal Contact in the NICU

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 131-131
    2. Fabrizio Ferrari, Giovanna Talucci, Luca Ori, Natascia Bertoncelli, Manuela Filippa, Laura Lucaccioni
      Pages 151-163
  5. Family-Centered Music Therapy Experiences in the NICU

  6. Early Family-Based Interventions in the NICU

About this book


This book synthesizes and analyzes research on early vocal contact (EVC) for preterm infants, an early healthcare strategy aimed at reducing the long-term impact of neonatal hospitalization, minimizing negative impacts of premature birth, and promoting positive brain development. Chapters begin by examining research on the maternal voice and its unique and fundamental role in infant development during the fetal and neonatal period. The book discusses the rationale for EVC with preterm infants, the underlying neurobiological mechanisms, and the challenges for infants’ development. Subsequent chapters highlight various EVCs that are used in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), including direct talking and singing to preterm infants. In addition, the book also presents and evaluates early family-centered therapies as well as paternal and other caregiver voice interventions. 

Topics featured in this book include:
  • Early vocal contact and the language development of preterm infants.
  • The maternal voice and its influence on the stability and the sleep of preterm infants. 
  • Parental singing as a form of early interactive contact with the preterm infant. 
  • Recorded or live music interventions in the bioecology of the NICU. 
  • The role of the music therapist to hospitalized infants. 
  • The Calming Cycle Theory and its implementation in preterm infants. 
Early Vocal Contact and Preterm Infant Brain Development is an essential reference for researchers, clinicians and related professionals, and graduate students in developmental psychology, pediatrics, neuroscience, obstetrics and nursing.


Early and ultra-early interventions in NICUs Early interactions with parents Early interventions for preterm infants Early parenting strategies Embodied voice and presence Family-based NICU interventions Fetal auditory development Language development of preterm infants Maternal voice and music therapy Maternal voice intervention Maternal voice intervention for preterm infants Maternal voice recognition NICUs Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Neurological perspectives on human voice Parental interventions and developmental care programs Premature birth Preterm infant development Preterm infants Sensorial modulation in NICUs

Editors and affiliations

  • Manuela Filippa
    • 1
  • Pierre Kuhn
    • 2
  • Björn Westrup
    • 3
  1. 1.Independent ResearcherAostaItaly
  2. 2.Médecine et Réanimation du Nouveau-né Hôpital de HautepierreCHUStrasbourgFrance
  3. 3.Karolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

About the editors

Manuela Filippa, Ph.D., is an independent researcher.  She collaborates with a number of Universities and Research Centers. Dr. Filippa has a rich and varied experience in the field of early musical interventions with infants and parents. Her research activity focuses mainly on bio-behavioral effects of singing on preterm and newborn infants, early vocal contact, non-verbal vocal communication abilities and ontogenesis of musical experiences.

Pierre Kuhn, MD, Ph.D., is Professor of Pediatrics and Neonatology at the University of Strasbourg, head of the NICU at Hautepierre Hospital. He is also researcher at the Institut de Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives, CNRS  Strasbourg, France . Pr. Kuhn is interested in individualized developmental care implementation and research. He has conducted research in the field of sensory system development in preterm infants. 

Björn Westrup, MD, Ph.D., is Senior Consultant and Lecturer at the Karolinska Institute and Director of the Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Programme at Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital, Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden. Dr. Westrup's field of research focuses on medical and physiological aspects of developmentally supportive care, family-centered care, and iron metabolism. He has been director of the Karolinska NIDCAP Training Center since its founding in 1999.

Bibliographic information