Infants Inherently Link Images, Sounds When Learning Language Infants may be biologically predisposed to link images and sounds as they learn to speak, giving them insight into the relationship between spoken words and objects seen in the world, according to new research on electrical brain activity by an international team of scientists. Researchers from Japan and the United ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   May 01, 2015
Infants Inherently Link Images, Sounds When Learning Language
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Research in Brief   |   May 01, 2015
Infants Inherently Link Images, Sounds When Learning Language
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.20052015.14
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 14. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.20052015.14
Infants may be biologically predisposed to link images and sounds as they learn to speak, giving them insight into the relationship between spoken words and objects seen in the world, according to new research on electrical brain activity by an international team of scientists.
Researchers from Japan and the United Kingdom, including first-listed author Michiko Asano of Rikkyo University, Keio University and Tamagawa University, studied 11-month-old infants in the beginning stages of language-learning. They found that the children spontaneously matched speech sounds with their visual referents. Although previous research has found that slightly older infants use sound-symbolic correspondences to learn a word, this study, published in Cortex, looked into how that process occurs in the brain.
The researchers showed 49 infants a round shape or a spiky shape, followed by two novel words—“moma” or “kipi”—that were either a match or mismatch to the shapes through sound symbolism.
“The oscillatory activity of the infant brain increased when the word they heard matched the shape they were shown, compared to when it did not,” says Sotaro Kita, a study author and psychology professor at the University of Warwick. “This suggests that the infant brain spontaneously engages in matching visual and auditory input.”
Kita also notes the study shows the infants’ brains worked harder when shown a mismatched shape to one of the words, as opposed to when they were matched, indicating “the infants were trying to work out the meaning of the novel words.”
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May 2015
Volume 20, Issue 5