Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Research shows similarities between infants learning to talk, birds learning to sing

03.06.2003


How infants respond to their mother’s touches and smiles influences their development in a manner much like what young birds experience when learning to sing, according to a research project involving the Department of Psychology at Indiana University Bloomington and the Biological Foundations of Behavior program at Franklin and Marshall College.

An article on the research, titled "Social interaction shapes babbling: Testing parallels between birdsong and speech," will be published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The Web site for the journal is http://www.pnas.org/misc/highlights.shtml. The academy’s Web site is http://www4.nationalacademies.org/nas/nashome.nsf.

"The main point of our research is how the reaction of the babies to their mother’s touches and smiles changes how they talk, and this corresponds to what birds do when learning to sing," said Meredith West, a professor of psychology and biology at IU. She collaborated on the article with Andrew King, a senior scientist at IU, and Michael Goldstein, an assistant professor of psychology at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.



"This research takes advantage of infants’ sociality to understand development as it is constructed by interactions with caregivers," Goldstein said, "and it shows that social learning is a crucial part of vocal development."

Goldstein is the principal author of the article, which he researched as part of his IU doctorate that was supervised by West. King directed the research on birds that was a model for Goldstein’s work.

"This is the first time for research showing that babies change how they vocalize in response to social responses -- not sounds, but sights -- by using more mature sounds," West said. "This shows that parent behavior plays a role very early in the process of babies learning to talk, a role that goes beyond simply talking to the infant."

West studies behavior development in animals and humans. She is particularly interested in the development of communication and social behavior in the young.

She said the research shows that babies, and birds, pay attention to the social consequences of sound-making and change their behavior accordingly. So their sounds have a function beyond simply making noise.

"By manipulating how mothers behave," West explained, "we demonstrated that babies can change how they vocalize without copying or imitating their mother’s behavior. The mothers did not change how they talked but whether they touched or smiled at the baby. That changed the content of the infant’s sounds, as they were more mature or word-like."

Goldstein added, "This project shows that maternal behavior and infant sensory capacities interact to generate the development of more advanced infant behavior. It shows that social learning is a crucial part of vocal development."

The researchers studied 30 infants with an average age of 8 months and monitored their interaction with their mothers over two 30-minute play sessions. This included sessions when the mothers were directed to act in specific ways while responding to the infants, and audio and visual testing equipment monitored the results. An analysis of these results formed the basis of the findings.

"This data provides strong support for a parallel in function between vocal precursors of songbirds and infants. Because imitation is usually considered the mechanism for vocal learning in both situations, the findings introduce social shaping as a general process underlying the development of speech and song," the researchers wrote in the abstract of the journal article.

Funding for the research came from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation and the IU Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior.

For more information, contact West at 812-330-8420 or mewest@indiana.edu or Goldstein at 717-291-3828 or Michael.Goldstein@fandm.edu.

Meredith West | Indiana University
Further information:
http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/984.html
http://www.pnas.org/misc/highlights.shtml
http://www4.nationalacademies.org/nas/nashome.nsf

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New risk factors for anxiety disorders
24.02.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers
24.02.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>