Science Current Events | Science News | Brightsurf.com
 

Infants' recognition of speech more sophisticated than previously known, NYU researchers find

July 18, 2012

The ability of infants to recognize speech is more sophisticated than previously known, researchers in New York University's Department of Psychology have found. Their study, which appears in the journal Developmental Psychology, showed that infants, as early as nine months old, could make distinctions between speech and non-speech sounds in both humans and animals.

"Our results show that infant speech perception is resilient and flexible," explained Athena Vouloumanos, an assistant professor at NYU and the study's lead author. "This means that our recognition of speech is more refined at an earlier age than we'd thought."

It is well-known that adults' speech perception is fine-tuned-they can detect speech among a range of ambiguous sounds. But much less is known about the capability of infants to make similar assessments. Understanding when these abilities become instilled would shed new light on how early in life we develop the ability to recognize speech.

In order to gauge the aptitude to perceive speech at any early age, the researchers examined the responses of infants, approximately nine months in age, to recorded human and parrot speech and non-speech sounds. Human (an adult female voice) and parrot speech sounds included the words "truck," "treat," "dinner," and "two." The adult non-speech sounds were whistles and a clearing of the throat while the parrot non-speech sounds were squawks and chirps. The recorded parrot speech sounds were those of Alex, an African Gray parrot that had the ability to talk and reason and whose behaviors were studied by psychology researcher Irene Pepperberg.

Since infants cannot verbally communicate their recognition of speech, the researchers employed a commonly used method to measure this process: looking longer at what they find either interesting or unusual. Under this method, looking longer at a visual paired with a sound may be interpreted as a reflection of recognition. In this study, sounds were paired with a series of visuals: a checkerboard-like image, adult female faces, and a cup.

The results showed that infants listened longer to human speech compared to human non-speech sounds regardless of the visual stimulus, revealing the ability recognize human speech independent of the context.

Their findings on non-human speech were more nuanced. When paired with human-face visuals or human artifacts like cups, the infants listened to parrot speech longer than they did non-speech, such that their preference for parrot speech was similar to their preference for human speech sounds. However, this did not occur in the presence of other visual stimuli. In other words, infants were able to distinguish animal speech from non-speech, but only in some contexts.

"Parrot speech is unlike human speech, so the results show infants have the ability to detect different types of speech, even if they need visual cues to assist in this process," explained Vouloumanos.

###

The study's other co-author was Hanna Gelfand, an undergraduate at NYU's College of Arts and Science at the time of the study and currently a graduate student in the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders.

New York University


Related Human Speech Current Events and Human Speech News Articles


Chitchat and small talk could serve an evolutionary need to bond with others
We think of chitchat and small talk as the things people say to pass the time or kill an awkward silence. New research suggests, however, that these idle conversations could be a social-bonding tool passed down from primates.

Drug used to treat cancer appears to sharpen memory
Can you imagine a drug that would make it easier to learn a language, sharpen your memory and help those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease by rewiring the brain and keeping neurons alive?

Norepinephrine aids brain in sorting complex auditory signals
For neuroscientists studying the intricate mechanisms of hearing in the brain's auditory cortex, a major question has been how a listener can focus in a noisy environment, and how neurochemicals help neurons convey as much embedded information as possible for the rest of the brain to act on.

Researchers find brain area that integrates speech's rhythms
Duke and MIT scientists have discovered an area of the brain that is sensitive to the timing of speech, a crucial element of spoken language.

I knew it was you by the sound of your (whale) voice
Human beings have unique voices -- from the deep, resonating bass of James Earl Jones to the raspy melodies sung by Broadway star Carol Channing -- and we routinely recognize individuals based solely on the way they sound, for example over the telephone, on a music CD or in an animated film.

University of Oregon team glimpses how the brain transforms sound
When people hear the sound of footsteps or the drilling of a woodpecker, the rhythmic structure of the sounds is striking, says Michael Wehr, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon.

The hoo's hoo of gibbon communication
The secret communication of gibbons has been interpreted for the first time in a study published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology.

Human speech's surprising influence on young infants
America's preoccupation with the "word gap"-- the idea that parents in impoverished homes speak less to their children, which, in turn, predicts outcomes like school achievement and income later in life -- has skyrocketed in recent years, leading to a rise in educational initiatives aiming to narrow the achievement gap by teaching young children more words.

Humans, sparrows make sense of sounds in similar ways
The song of the swamp sparrow -- a grey-breasted bird found in wetlands throughout much of North America -- is a simple melodious trill, repeated over and over again.

International team maps 'big bang' of bird evolution
The first findings of the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium are being reported nearly simultaneously in 28 papers -- eight papers in a Dec. 12 special issue of Science and 20 more in Genome Biology, GigaScience and other journals. The full set of papers in Science and other journals can be accessed at avian.genomics.cn
More Human Speech Current Events and Human Speech News Articles

The Kingdom of Speech

The Kingdom of Speech
by Tom Wolfe (Author)


The maestro storyteller and reporter provocatively argues that what we think we know about speech and human evolution is wrong.

Tom Wolfe, whose legend began in journalism, takes us on an eye-opening journey that is sure to arouse widespread debate. THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH is a captivating, paradigm-shifting argument that speech--not evolution--is responsible for humanity's complex societies and achievements.

From Alfred Russel Wallace, the Englishman who beat Darwin to the theory of natural selection but later renounced it, and through the controversial work of modern-day anthropologist Daniel Everett, who defies the current wisdom that language is hard-wired in humans, Wolfe examines the solemn, long-faced, laugh-out-loud zig-zags of Darwinism, old and Neo, and finds it...

Wired for Speech: How Voice Activates and Advances the Human-Computer Relationship (MIT Press)

Wired for Speech: How Voice Activates and Advances the Human-Computer Relationship (MIT Press)
by Clifford Nass (Author), Scott Brave (Author)


Interfaces that talk and listen are populating computers, cars, call centers, and even home appliances and toys, but voice interfaces invariably frustrate rather than help. In Wired for Speech, Clifford Nass and Scott Brave reveal how interactive voice technologies can readily and effectively tap into the automatic responses all speech -- whether from human or machine -- evokes. Wired for Speech demonstrates that people are "voice-activated": we respond to voice technologies as we respond to actual people and behave as we would in any social situation. By leveraging this powerful finding, voice interfaces can truly emerge as the next frontier for efficient, user-friendly technology. Wired for Speech presents new theories and experiments and applies them to critical issues concerning how...

Understanding Human Communication

Understanding Human Communication
by Ronald B. Adler (Author), George Rodman (Author), Athena du Pré (Author)


For over three decades, this has been the bestselling text for the Human Communication course. Understanding Human Communication is written with one goal in mind: to provide students with the insights and skills to succeed in our changing world. Fully updated and expanded to include more information on culture and communication, gender and communication, and the effects of technology and social media on communication, this twelfth edition also features two new types of boxes, "Understanding Diversity" and "@Work," as well as new annotated sample speeches.


Use and Training of the Human Voice: A Practical Approach to Speech and Voice Dynamics

Use and Training of the Human Voice: A Practical Approach to Speech and Voice Dynamics
by Arthur Lessac (Author)


The Use and Training of the Human Voice is now in use in secondary schools, colleges, universities, and professional training programs nationally and internationally. First published in 1960, it is now in its second edition. In 1978 Professor Lessac's second text, BODY WISDOM: The Use and Training of the Human Body, was released. This new work joins The Use and Training of the Human Voice in reflecting the continuing evolution of Professor Lessac's research, development, and applications. Together the two texts, each complete in its own area, may be seen as a first full statement of the Lessac research and training system.

Arthur Lessac developed the Lessac System from over 45 years of study and professional work combined with practical studio teaching to a wide variety of...

Understanding Human Communication

Understanding Human Communication
by Ronald B. Adler (Author), George Rodman (Author), Carrie Cropley Hutchinson (Author)


UNDERSTANDING HUMAN COMMUNICATION IS UNDERSTANDING CHANGE.

For over three decades, this has been the best-selling text for the introduction to human communication course. Understanding Human Communication is written with one goal in mind: to provide students with the insights and skills to succeed in our changing world. Ronald B. Adler, George Rodman, and new author Carrie Cropley Hutchinson place communication theory within the context of everyday skills and draw from the latest media, culture, and scholarship, creating a distinctive pedagogy that gives students the tools they need to master--and enjoy--this intriguing and relevant subject.

NEW TO THE ELEVENTH EDITION

* New part-opening "Case Studies" present real-life communication challenges on the job, in school,...

Human Communication

Human Communication
by Judy Pearson (Author), Paul Nelson (Author), Scott Titsworth (Author), Lynn Harter (Author)


The fourth edition of Human Communication is an engaging reflection of the contemporary field of communication studies. The authors' writing mantra ("Make It Smart; Keep It Real") leads to a text that strikes a practical balance of definitive content and everyday application. To "make it smart," the authors read hundreds of articles from mainstream communication journals. To "keep it real," the authors synthesized their findings so that they resonate with the challenges and goals of today's typical basic course. Always the goal is to highlight the relevancy of communication to college students by engaging the readers. Every chapter features skill-building, critical thinking, innovative pedagogy, 21st century examples, and lively writing that is respectful of the student reader.

The Human Rights Reader: Major Political Essays, Speeches and Documents From Ancient Times to the Present

The Human Rights Reader: Major Political Essays, Speeches and Documents From Ancient Times to the Present
by Micheline Ishay (Author)


The second edition of The Human Rights Reader presents a dramatically revised organization and updated selections, including pieces on globalization and the war on terrorism. Each part of the Reader corresponds to five historical phases in the history of human rights and explores for each the arguments, debates, and issues of inclusiveness central to those eras. This edition is the most comprehensive and up-to-date collection of essays, speeches, and documents from historical and contemporary sources, all of which are now placed in context with Micheline Ishay’s substantial introduction to the reader as a whole and valuable introductions to each part and chapter.

Human Communication: Principles and Contexts

Human Communication: Principles and Contexts
by Stewart Tubbs (Author)


Human Communication is an introductory text that links theory and research with the practical components of communication. This award-winning author presents the fundamental concepts in communication through stimulating case-studies and contemporary examples. The 13th edition includes new discussions of cutting edge research and additional self-tests for students.

God's Human Speech: A Practical Theology of Proclamation

God's Human Speech: A Practical Theology of Proclamation
by Charles L. Bartow (Author)


Charles Bartow's stated purpose in this practical theology of preaching is "to encourage confidence in the Bible read and the sermon delivered as a means of grace in an age of radical criticism of Scripture, creed, and confession.

Freedom of Speech (What Do We Mean by Human Rights? (Sea to Sea))

Freedom of Speech (What Do We Mean by Human Rights? (Sea to Sea))
by Philip Steele (Author)


From the HUMAN RIGHTS series, a title which explores the concept of freedom of speech with the help of historical and modern case studies. Positive breakthroughs are documented (as well as abuses of rights). Suitable for Key Stage 3.

© 2016 BrightSurf.com