Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Research Shows Similarities Between Infants Learning To Talk, Birds Learning To Sing

Date:
June 3, 2003
Source:
Indiana University
Summary:
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.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- 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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Indiana University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Indiana University. "Research Shows Similarities Between Infants Learning To Talk, Birds Learning To Sing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 June 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030603082533.htm>.
Indiana University. (2003, June 3). Research Shows Similarities Between Infants Learning To Talk, Birds Learning To Sing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030603082533.htm
Indiana University. "Research Shows Similarities Between Infants Learning To Talk, Birds Learning To Sing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/06/030603082533.htm (accessed August 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

Treadmill 'trips' May Reduce Falls for Elderly

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Scientists are tripping the elderly on purpose in a Chicago lab in an effort to better prevent seniors from falling and injuring themselves in real life. (Aug.28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) It’s an unusual condition with a colorful name. Kids with “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome see sudden distortions in objects they’re looking at or their own bodies appear to change size, a lot like the main character in the Lewis Carroll story. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Stopping Schizophrenia Before Birth

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Scientists have long called choline a “brain booster” essential for human development. Not only does it aid in memory and learning, researchers now believe choline could help prevent mental illness. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Personalized Brain Vaccine for Glioblastoma

Ivanhoe (Aug. 27, 2014) Glioblastoma is the most common and aggressive brain cancer in humans. Now a new treatment using the patient’s own tumor could help slow down its progression and help patients live longer. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins