Infants and face and speech processing

Filed under: Babies, Development/Milestones: Babies

Experience plays a crucial role in the normal development of many perceptual and cognitive functions such as speech perception. For example, between 6 and 10 months of age, the infant's ability to discriminate among native speech sounds improves, whereas the ability to discriminate among foreign speech sounds declines. However, a recent investigation suggests that some experience with non-native languages from 9 months of age facilitates the maintenance of this ability at 12 months. Systems underlying face processing may be similarly sculpted by experience with different kinds of faces. In the study, it was demonstrated that, in this case, faces of Barbary macaques, facilitates the discrimination fo monkey faces, an ability that is otherwise around 9 months of age. These data support, and further elucidate, the role of early experience in the development of face processing.

Personally, I'm not terribly interested in whether or not my baby learns to discriminate among monkey faces. What impresed me about this article were teh comments regarding the ability to discriminate among foreign speech sounds. Do you think that experience with foreign speech might improve our children's ability to later learn foreign languages? It sounds like it might be so. What do you think?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.