Instrumental and Vocal Music Effects on EEG and EKG in Neonates of Depressed and Non-depressed Mothers

M. Hernandez-Reif
M. Diego
T. Field


Neonates (M age=16 days) born to depressed and non-depressed mothers were randomly assigned to hear an audiotaped lullaby of instrumental music with vocals or without vocals. Neonatal EEG and EKG were recorded for 2min (baseline) of silence and for 2min of one or the other music presentation. Neonates of non-depressed mothers showed greater relative right frontal EEG asymmetry to both types of music, suggesting a withdrawal response. Neonates of depressed mothers on the other hand showed greater relative left frontal EEG asymmetry to the instrumental without vocal segment, suggesting an approach response, and greater relative right frontal EEG asymmetry to the instrumental with vocal segment, suggesting a withdrawal response. Heart rate decelerations occurred following the music onset for both groups of infants, however, compared to infants of non-depressed mothers, infants of depressed mothers showed a delayed heart rate deceleration, suggesting slower processing and/or delayed attention. These findings suggest that neonates of depressed and non-depressed mothers show different EKG and EEG responses to instrumental music with versus without vocals.