Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pointing is infants' first communicative gesture

Date:
February 24, 2014
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Researchers have studied the acquisition and development of language in babies on the basis of the temporary coordination of gestures and speech. The results are the first in showing how and when they acquire the pattern of coordination between the two elements which allows them to communicate very early on.

Baby pointing (stock photo).
Credit: © Gelpi / Fotolia

Catalan researchers have studied the acquisition and development of language in babies on the basis of the temporary coordination of gestures and speech. The results are the first in showing how and when they acquire the pattern of coordination between the two elements which allows them to communicate very early on.

A new study carried out by two researchers from the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona analyses the temporary coordination between gestures and speech in babies during the very early stages of language development, from the babbling period until the production of their first words.

The results, published in the journal Speech Communication, are the first to show how and when babies acquire the coordination between gesture and speech.

"There are now more and more investigations that show that the study of language and human communication can not be carried out only with an analysis of speech," Nϊria Esteve Gibert, one of the authors, explained to SINC.

In fact, in communicative interactions meanings and emotions are transmitted through speech and non-verbal elements (hand gestures, facial expressions or body position).

"Our analysis indicates that it is during the transition between the babbling period and first words (that is to say, before the infant is capable of producing two joined words, one after the other), that the gestural system and system of speech are already closely linked," affirmed Esteve Gibert.

According to the authors, this study demonstrates the vision that speech and body language are two elements required for studying human communication, as there are more and more indications that both modes are developed at the same time and that they are closely coordinated, both semantically and temporarily.

The aim of this pioneering work was to investigate the process of acquisition and development of language in relation to the temporary coordination of gestures and speech.

In order to do so, the researchers filmed four babies, born into Catalan-speaking families, while they played with their parents at home, from when the children were aged 11 to when they reached 19 months old.

"These recordings were used to investigate when children started to combine gesture and speech in the same way as adults and if when they combine the two modes, the patterns of temporary coordination between gesture and speech are appropriate," Gibert continued.

In total, more than 4,500 communicative acts produced by the babies across the analysed months, through 24 hours of recordings, were obtained, which have been studied from the point of view of the gestures and of the acoustic properties of the vocalisations produced by the children.

"Special importance has been given to the analysis of the temporary coordination between speech and the act of pointing, because this gesture is crucial in the linguistic and cognitive development of language since it represents the first communicative gesture that babies are capable of understanding and producing," the expert pointed out.

Moreover, it is noted that the correct development of the coordination is closely linked with the future linguistic abilities of the child at a more advanced stage.

Combination of gesture and speech

During the babbling stage babies still produce many gestures without combining them with vocalisations. However, from the beginning of the period in which they start to produce their first words (four words during half an hour of recording), babies produce the majority of hand gestures in combination with vocalisations, the same as adults.

Furthermore, on analysing the combinations of gesture and vocalisation that the babies produce at this early age we see that most of the gestures that they combine with vocalisations are deictic gestures (pointing and reaching) with a declarative communicative intention (to inform) more than a commanding intention (to achieve that object).

"Already in the first combinations of gesture with vocalisation, the pattern of temporary coordination of both modes (which consists in synchronising the interval of time more prominent in the deictic gesture with the interval of time more prominent in the vocalisation) is very similar to that of adults," concluded Esteve Gibert.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Nϊria Esteve-Gibert, Pilar Prieto. Infants temporally coordinate gesture-speech combinations before they produce their first words. Speech Communication, 2014; 57: 301 DOI: 10.1016/j.specom.2013.06.006

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Pointing is infants' first communicative gesture." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224081117.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2014, February 24). Pointing is infants' first communicative gesture. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224081117.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Pointing is infants' first communicative gesture." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140224081117.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) — A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) — In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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