Say, what?

Teen brains are conditioned to shut down mom’s voice

Moms, listen up: If your 13-year-old appears to hear only, “Wah wah,” when you speak, don’t worry.

That’s just her brain helping her to start separating from you by turning down your voice and turning up unfamiliar voices, Stanford Medicine research published in April in the Journal of Neuroscience found.

“This is a signal that helps teens engage with the world and form connections which allow them to be socially adept outside their families,” said the study’s senior author, Vinod Menon, PhD, the Rachael L. and Walter F. Nichols, MD, Professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

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Erin Digitale is the pediatrics science writer in the Office of Communications. Email her at

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