Volume 12, Issue 3/4
I am pleased that my first project as Associate Editor of this Journal was producing this double issue on "Experiments in prenatal enrichment." This Spring/Summer 1998 issue, the brain child of our president, David Chamberlain, represents a collection of the foremost research to assess the effects of providing both a positive and a stimulating environment in utero not only on the baby but on the family unit as well. The articles are multicultural in their scope, coming from several different countries and covering a range of socioeconomic demographics. They range from reprints of the first classic experiments to the fruits of those original findings in new studies involving hundreds of subjects.
Articles in this area of research have been very hard to locate; therefore, we wanted to put all this literature under one cover, including papers originally published in this Journal as early as 1986 and as late as 1997. Our purpose is to give them the additional circulation they deserve, to make it easier for writers and researchers to cite them, and to increase their use by members, students, parents and scholars. I was pleased to have Dr. Chamberlain's assistance in choosing these papers, arranging for permission to publish them, and adding the introductions "About This Paper" to contextualize each contribution at the beginning of the article.
In his introductory overview, David Chamberlain traces the history of prenatal stimulation experiments and places this work in the larger context of infant research and especially the recent models of intelligence drawn from Robert Sternberg and Howard Gardner. Chamberlain illustrates his points with clinical, experimental and anecdotal evidence.
Rene Van de Carr's and Marc Lehrer's classic article on the Prenatal University program they developed that ignited interest in prenatal stimulation research is reprinted here. Their techniques still form the basis for most of the later experimental programs.
Chairat Panthuraamphorn's pilot study in Thailand of prenatal stimulation with a small group of experimental subjects compared to controls laid the groundwork for a series of experiments, culminating in his most recent large-scale study of 150 pregnant women compared to 100 controls investigating the effects of stimulation and a positive environment on brain growth.
"Claira: A Case Study in Prenatal Learning" by William Sallenbach offers an intimate, in-depth look at a single case, who happened to be his own daughter. This moving yet rigorous account provides a rich texture and context from which to view the larger studies.
The Firstart prenatal stimulation program in Spain reported by Lafuente et al. represents an ambitious study in a European setting, evaluating the differences between 71 controls and 101 subjects in the experimental group.
Finally, a group of Venezuelan researchers led by Beatriz Manrique provide the capstone for a monumental study whose early stages were reported in this Journal and other sources starting in 1989. This research project covered 684 families living in poverty and followed the significant differences demonstrated between experimental subjects and controls until the children were six years old.
It is exciting to see the range and scope of this research from its beginnings as traced through the articles in this issue, an effort that would not have been possible without the generous permissions of all the authors and of Thomas Blum for articles in his collection, Prenatal Perception, Learning and Bonding (1993, Berlin: Leonardo Publishers). We also wish to acknowledge the work of David Chamberlain as Action Editor for the Venezuelan article and Laura Uplinger who served as international liaison and translator.
Jenny Wade, Ph.D.
Institute of Transpersonal Psychology
Palo Alto, California