Nav: Home

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

July 17, 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.
-end-
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 Infants Articles:

Premature infants at greater risk of SIDS
Premature infants still have a greater risk compared to full-term babies of dying of SIDS and other sleep-related infant deaths despite recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics that hospital NICU's provide more safe infant sleep education to parents before they go home.
Detecting autism in infants before symptoms emerge
According to the results of a new study, a brain scan can detect functional changes in babies as young as six months of age that predicts later diagnosis with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Rotavirus vaccination in infants and young children
Rotaviruses (RV) are the commonest cause of diarrhea in infants and young children worldwide.
A mother's voice may help stabilize preterm infants
A recent review of published research indicates that hearing their mother's voice can benefit the health of preterm infants.
Healthy weight gain in infants
With nearly 10 percent of infants considered 'high weight for length,' University of Delaware researcher Jillian Trabulsi wants to help babies achieve a healthy weight starting with their first months of life.
Mothers and infants connect through song
Research from UM Frost School of Music provides insight into the importance of song for infants and mothers.
Infants use prefrontal cortex in learning
A group of 8-month-olds has provided evidence that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the prefrontal cortex contributes to learning during infancy.
Very premature infants: Towards better care
Born too soon, very premature infants are particularly vulnerable and need appropriate care.
Maternal vaccination again influenza associated with protection for infants
How long does the protection from a mother's immunization against influenza during pregnancy last for infants after they are born?
Infants much less likely to get the flu if moms are vaccinated while pregnant
Babies whose moms were vaccinated against the flu while pregnant had a 70 percent reduction in confirmed flu cases compared with infants whose moms weren't immunized, study finds.

Related Infants Reading:

Wong's Nursing Care of Infants and Children, 10e
by Marilyn J. Hockenberry PhD RN-CS PNP FAAN (Author), David Wilson MS RN C(INC) (Author)

The leading text in pediatric nursing, Wong's Nursing Care of Infants and Children takes a unique, easy-to-understand developmental approach to describe the care of children at each age and stage of development. Childhood diseases and disorders are organized by age groups and body systems, and described through the nursing process framework.This edition includes updates on topics such as the new CPR guidelines, immunizations, and pain assessment and management. Written by pediatric experts, Dr. Marilyn Hockenberry and David Wilson, each with nearly 30 years of hands-on experience, this... View Details


Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale
by Thelma Harms (Author), Debby Cryer (Author), Richard M. Clifford (Author)

Featuring a new spiral binding, the updated ITERS-R offers more practical assistance in the form of additional notes for clarification and an Expanded Score Sheet, which incorporates notes and tables to assist in scoring. However, the items and indicators remain the same as in the original ITERS-R. Designed for use in center-based child care programs for infants and toddlers up to 30 months of age, the ITERS R can be used by program directors for supervision and program improvement, by teaching staff for self assessment, by agency staff for monitoring, and in teacher training programs. The... View Details


Introductory Calculus For Infants
by Omi M. Inouye (Author)

The storybook adventure of two friends as they explore the wonders of calculus. View Details


Infants, Children, and Adolescents (8th Edition) (Berk & Meyers, The Infants, Children, and Adolescents Series, 8th Edition)
by Laura E. Berk (Author), Adena B. Meyers (Author)

NOTE: You are purchasing a standalone product; MyDevelopmentLab does not come packaged with this content. If you would like to purchase both the physical text and MyDevelopmentLab, search for ISBN-10: 0134130146 / ISBN-13: 9780134130149. That package includes ISBN-10: 0133936732 / ISBN-13: 9780133936735 and ISBN-10: 0205909744 / ISBN-13: 9780205909742.

MyDevelopmentLab should only be purchased when required by an instructor.

For courses in Child Development

Visit the Showcase Site to see sample chapters, get information on the supplements... View Details


Infant Massage (Fourth Edition): A Handbook for Loving Parents
by Vimala McClure (Author)

Master the techniques of infant massage and incorporate this joyful and wonderful healing art into your baby’s life with this revised and updated edition.

For generations, mothers around the world have known that the soft touch of their hands soothes, calms, and communicates their love to their babies. The latest scientific research confirms that physical affection is vital to the development and wellness of children—easing discomfort, releasing tension, improving sleep, helping premature infants gain weight, even aiding asthmatic children to improve their breathing. Now... View Details


Infants and Children: Prenatal through Middle Childhood (8th Edition) (Berk & Meyers, The Infants, Children, and Adolescents Series, 8th Edition)
by Laura E. Berk (Author), Adena B. Meyers (Author)

NOTE: You are purchasing a standalone product; MyDevelopmentLab does not come packaged with this content. If you would like to purchase both the physical text and MyDevelopmentLab, search for ISBN-10: 013413012X / ISBN-13: 9780134130125 . That package includes ISBN-10: 0133936724 / ISBN-13: 9780133936728  and ISBN-10: 0205909744 / ISBN-13: 9780205909742 .

MyDevelopmentLab should only be purchased when required by an instructor.

For courses in Child Development

Visit the Showcase Site to see sample chapters, get information... View Details


Psychotherapy with Infants and Young Children: Repairing the Effects of Stress and Trauma on Early Attachment
by Alicia F. Lieberman (Author), Patricia Van Horn (Author)

This eloquent book presents an empirically supported treatment that engages parents as the most powerful agents of their young children's healthy development. Child–parent psychotherapy promotes the child's emotional health and builds the parent's capacity to nurture and protect, particularly when stress and trauma have disrupted the quality of the parent–child relationship. The book provides a comprehensive theoretical framework together with practical strategies for combining play, developmental guidance, trauma-focused interventions, and concrete assistance with problems of living.... View Details


Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS-3)
by Thelma Harms (Author), Debby Cryer (Author), Richard M. Clifford (Author), Noreen Yazejian (Author)

Building on extensive feedback from the field as well as vigorous new research on how best to support infant and toddler development and learning, the authors have revised and updated the widely used Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale. ITERS-3 is the next-generation assessment tool for use in center-based child care programs for infants and toddlers up to 36 months of age.

ITERS-3 focuses on the full range of needs of infants and toddlers and provides a framework for improving program quality. Further, the scale assesses both environmental provisions and... View Details


Dear Parent: Caring for Infants With Respect (2nd Edition)
by Magda Gerber (Author)

Internationally renowned infant specialist Magda Gerber, M.A., the founder of RIE, offers a healthy new approach to infant care based on a profound respect for each baby's individual needs and abilities. View Details


Study Guide for Wong's Nursing Care of Infants and Children, 10e
by Marilyn J. Hockenberry PhD RN-CS PNP FAAN (Author), David Wilson MS RN C(INC) (Author), Linda McCampbell MSN APRN BC (Author)

Master pediatric nursing concepts and apply them to the practice setting! Corresponding to the chapters in Wong’s Nursing Care of Infants and Children, 10th Edition, by Marilyn Hockenberry and David Wilson, this study guide reinforces your understanding of pediatric nursing with learning activities, review questions, and case studies with critical thinking questions.

A variety of question types includes multiple-choice, matching, fill-in-the-blank, short answer, and true/false questions.Critical thinking case studies apply concepts to real-world practice.An... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Manipulation
We think we're the ones who control what we see, read, think and remember. But is that true? Who decides? And who should decide? This hour, TED speakers reveal just how easily we can be manipulated. Guests include design ethicist Tristan Harris, MSNBC host Ali Velshi, psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, and neuroscientist Steve Ramirez.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#444 The V-Word (Rebroadcast)
This week, we're looking at the social and biological science of female sex organs. We'll talk to Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center Institute for Regenerative Medicine, about the creation and use of lab-grown vaginas. Biology professor Marie Herberstein exposes the bias against female genitalia in scientific studies. And science writer Emily Anthes tells us about the history and promising future of female condoms.