While the influence of the mother's voice on neonatal heart-rate response and its relevant activity on cerebral cortex and the autonomic nervous system (ANS) are well known, few studies have assessed its influence on respiratory activity. We investigated the relationship among the respiration rate, the delta wave amplitudes through electroencephalography, and the basal state of ANS through the respiratory variability index while 22 full-term neonates hear their mother's voice and an unknown voice. It was found that when respiratory variability was large, a transient (<5 s) change in respiration rates was observed in response to an unknown voice, while a greater increase in the delta wave amplitude was observed in the frontal lobe than the parietal one in response to the mother's voice. Conversely, when respiratory variability was small, a sustained increase (>10 s) in respiration rates was observed in response to the mother's voice, while a greater increase in the delta wave amplitude was found in both the frontal and parietal lobes. These results suggest that the basal state of ANS influences the latency of increases in respiration rates. Furthermore, induced by the mother's voice, transient increases in respiration rates are reduced in association with frontal lobe activity, and sustained increases in respiration rates are promoted in association with frontal and parietal lobe activities.
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