Charlene Krueger, Ph.D., ARNP • Associate Professor of Nursing
College of Nursing

Charlene Krueger’s research is early developmental exposure to sound, specifically maternal voice.

She began with investigating maternal voice because, within the normal uterine environment, maternal speech provides a predominant, unique source of multi-modal sensory stimulation (auditory, vibratory, and vestibular) for the developing fetus. For the preterm infant, however, this unique source of sensory stimulation (mother’s voice) is primarily lost, since the mother visits are limited, and the infant is continually exposed to the elevated levels of light and sound in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Krueger’s long-term goal is to use these comparisons between the fetus and preterm infant to improve the health of preterm infants, through the development and testing of interventions optimizing on the benefits of maternal stimulation.

She has established the groundwork for her research by gaining expertise in measures of heart rate variability, early learning capabilities, and short-term outcomes necessary for discharging preterm infants from the hospital (e.g., weight gain, days to enteral and oral feeds).

Krueger has established a timeline for how early in prenatal development the fetus is capable of learning and remembering. Her other research suggests the preterm infant is capable of learning at an earlier age. Providing exposure to their mothers’ voice using simple recordings played to them in the NICU improves not only learning, but also autonomic nervous system control of heart rate variability and short-term outcomes necessary for discharging preterm infants from the hospital.

Krueger is an affiliate to the Infant Development Research Center directed towards promoting collaborative research in the area of early human and nonhuman perception. She has reviewed for two international journals on the topics of intersensory functioning and exposure to sound in the fetus and preterm infant and published her work in national and international peer-reviewed journals.