The Uterus as Environment

The Ecology of Fetal Behavior
  • William P. Smotherman
  • Scott R. Robinson
Part of the Handbook of Behavioral Neurobiology book series (HBNE, volume 9)


Speculation about the importance of experience before birth dates to the origins of science itself. The belief that knowledge, habits, and personality traits could be imparted to the unborn child through experiences of the mother was widespread in classical and medieval society. Aristotle himself speculated on the importance of prenatal life:

As soon then as the offspring of all animals are born, especially those born imperfect, they are in the habit of sleeping, because they continue sleeping also within the mother when they first acquire sensation…. But nevertheless they are found to wake even in the womb (this is clear in dissections and ovipara), and then they immediately fall into a sleep again. This is why after birth also they spend most of their time in sleep. (De generatione animalium, p. 321)


Amniotic Fluid Apple Juice Human Fetus Fetal Movement Developmental Psychobiology 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • William P. Smotherman
    • 1
  • Scott R. Robinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory for Psychobiological Research, Departments of Psychology and ZoologyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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