The prenatal experiences associated with the chemosensory environment can influence a person’s life not only during the nursing period, but also during the later stages of human development. This idea was stated by a group of British scientists who conducted the research in 2013 that proved the controversial assumption and provided the supporting evidences for the claim. In their research, Hepper, Wells, Dornan, and Lynch proposed the unique approach to studying the role of the prenatal chemosensory learning for the children’s further development (Hepper et al., 2013, p. 569). The authors chose to research the role of the prenatal experience for children’s behaviours in the future while focusing on mothers’ dietary preferences during pregnancy and the children’s further attitude to the garlic flavour.
Thus, in order to examine the role of the prenatal experience for the children’s behaviours, Hepper, Wells, Dornan, and Lynch focused on the samples that included 33 mothers with their children. The mothers were put into two groups: firstly, the women who consumed garlic during their pregnancy, and secondly, the women who did not consume garlic during their pregnancy. Later, the researchers focused on the dietary preferences of these women’s children who were then 8-9 year old. The children’s daily dietary experiences were examined with the help of tests based on eating the potato gratin flavoured with garlic. Later, when the results were analysed with the help of ANOVA, it was found that the children whose mothers had consumed garlic during pregnancy demonstrated more preferences to eating potato gratin flavoured with garlic than the children from the other group.
The results of the study made the researchers think about the long-term effects of the prenatal experience on the children’s lives and behaviours. The authors stated that the “study demonstrates in humans, for the first time, that prenatal chemosensory experiences may persist and influence behaviour well into childhood, some years after the initial experience” (Hepper et al., 2013, p. 573). As a result, it is possible to conclude referring to the study that all the prenatal experiences associated with the chemosensory learning can affect the behaviours and preferences of children during a long period of time in contrast to the idea that these effects are obvious only during the nursing period.
It is possible to state that the research results are important to influence the approach to forming the women’s behaviour during the pregnancy. While focusing on the long-term effects of the prenatal experience, it is important to work out the specific strategies to influence the development of children’s healthy lifestyle habits. Thus, the research results are important to change the psychologists’ approaches to discussing the origins of the children’s behaviours, preferences, and inclinations.
Nevertheless, Hepper, Wells, Dornan, and Lynch’s research is focused only on one factor, and it only discusses the garlic flavour’s effect on the children’s dietary preferences. The results of the research should not be generalised to discuss all types of children’s chemosensory experiences and thus calls for the exploration of other stimuli’s role in the children’s long-term behaviours and preferences.
Hepper, P. G., Wells, D. L., Dornan, J. C., & Lynch, C. (2013). Long-term Flavor Recognition in Humans With Prenatal Garlic Experience. Developmental Psychobiology, 55(5), 568-574.