For a commentary on this article see Rosen and Iverson (2007).
Listening to language at birth: evidence for a bias for speech in neonates
Version of Record online: 31 JAN 2007
© 2007 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 10, Issue 2, pages 159–164, March 2007
How to Cite
Vouloumanos, A. and Werker, J. F. (2007), Listening to language at birth: evidence for a bias for speech in neonates. Developmental Science, 10: 159–164. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2007.00549.x
- Issue online: 31 JAN 2007
- Version of Record online: 31 JAN 2007
The nature and origin of the human capacity for acquiring language is not yet fully understood. Here we uncover early roots of this capacity by demonstrating that humans are born with a preference for listening to speech. Human neonates adjusted their high amplitude sucking to preferentially listen to speech, compared with complex non-speech analogues that controlled for critical spectral and temporal parameters of speech. These results support the hypothesis that human infants begin language acquisition with a bias for listening to speech. The implications of these results for language and communication development are discussed.