What does a baby in utero sense of the outside world?
My own personal opinion is that the babies senses are almost all inactive, apart from the activity that is ongoing, in preperation for birth.
It is my belief that the volume of liquid that is the babies environment, acts as a "sound-vibrational" medium, that shields the babies actual sensory organs, and actually invokes sensory suspension, until the womb is 'flushed' by the mother.
Crudelly expressed, the liquid medium is expelled by the mother, which then triggers the babies sensory organs to "kick-in" and recieve a vast amount of information, primarally the Brain is "aware" of a dark chamber "womb"..with a tunnel of light "external to the womb opening"..and the passage of the baby out from, Liquid to Gas, impregnate's within the mind senses, this event.
This primordial pre-birth event is the one and the same, the fundemental "first" experience of transitional environmental change.
Later in life the sensory image of "light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel", can be experienced by Humans in all manner of traumatic events, some mistake this sensory (impregnated-vision), as one of religious or other extra-sensory importance, when all it is really is the mind replaying the (moment of birth), as recalled by the brain's sensory input?
All of adult "out-of-body" experiences are very explainable in terms of facts of:Babies come-out-of-a-parent-body.
It would be hard for the early brain to recieve and interperate neuron transmissions within a confined environment of the womb, without the experience of birth and experience?..in order to compile an 'event-status', to the input signals.
Just think about the above for a moment, the "first" events occurs inside the womb, the brain is constrained by the surrounding liquid environment(which incedentally as the brain develops, it retains a liquid membrane in adults)..the important questions of the Conscious Adult can be attributed to this initial and and very powerful transitional moment, Birth.
Of course there are theories that take the self-similar course of Nature, from large scales to small scales, to interesting 'reproduction' situations.
For instance the small scale collision of two cells..the rotational action of an human egg and sperm, has been likened/similar to that of Galaxy Rotations, the fact that Nature Naturally selects all events to follow certain rules, no matter what scale is chosen, seems to have a baring on what questions Humans find inherent, and unavoidable.
Here are Four babies that all went through the same experience, and thus share common goals, read on here:http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=310
Now as they have developed into adults, their Q+A are inherentally self-similar?..and yet so different!
This explains the timeline of the known development ..some highlights...
Many studies now confirm that voices reach the womb, rather than being overwhelmed by the background noise created by the mother and placenta. Intonation patterns of pitch, stress, and rhythm, as well as music, reach the fetus without significant distortion. A mother's voice is particularly powerful because it is transmitted to the womb through her own body reaching the fetus in a stronger form than outside sounds.
babies are dreaming as early as 23 weeks g.a.when rapid eye movement sleep is first observed (Birnholz, 1981).
The nose develops between 11 and 15 weeks. Many chemical compounds can cross the placenta to join the amniotic fluid, providing the fetus with tastes and odors.
The fetus is surprisingly active during gestation and will respond to numerous cues, whether they are chemical ones from the mother, sound, light or other stimuli.
Liquid is actually a very good medium for transmitting sound, much better than air in fact. hypatia's link speaks to that.
As far as a tunnel, anatomically this doesn't seem possible. The birth canal is very restricted in size and there would be no direct path for light to travel from the the external world to the fetus. Even as it progresses toward birth it is so compressed in the canal that even if it had it's eye open (doubtful), it would not be able to see anything anyway. This by no means is an attmept to downplay the huge amount of fetal stimulation/reaction that takes place during birth. I'm simply trying to show that sensory systems are in plae and funtioning well before this event (see below).
However, there is evidence that light does reach the fetus during gestation, through the uterine wall, and there appears to be circadian genes in residence, visual connections to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (a region of the brain known to play a large role in environmental cues and circadian rhythms). Circadian rhythmns refer to periodic, repeating changes that occur in numerous system throughout the body that are driven by our exposure to a typical cycle of light during a 24-hour day. There are also circannual rhythms (yearly/seasonal) that are known to exist, and are also detected in the fetus. Numerous studies show that things like cardiac output, breathing rate and brain activity via electroencephalography, recorded in the fetus, respond to different environmental cues and display circadian rhythms. Many of these responses can be explained by maternal transfer of the cues via hormones or other means, but the end result is that the fetus reacts to changes in the environment. In addition, there are some responses that have been isolated to pure fetal stimulation.
My guitar teacher Carrie (from Indiana) would agree with you. When she was pregnant with her daughter Amelia, she'd smile and point out that her baby was very active as she played guitar and sang. Perhaps her daughter's musical inclinations began at that time.
Separate names with a comma.