There are many ways infants learn and discover more about the world around them, but few ways have more of an impact on their cognitive power than listening to words, one study has revealed.
Even before they can speak on their own, words spoken by people around them, especially parents, play an important role in the brain developed of babies, research from Northwestern University has revealed.
Words have a bigger impact on their minds than any other sounds including music according to the 2010 study as noted in this article.
The study focused on almost 50 three-month-old baby boys and girls who were shown a series of pictures of fish (and sometimes side-by-side with a dinosaur), accompanied by either words or beeps.
Results are ‘Striking’
The research showed that babies who heard words were better able to categorize the pictures (by looking at the fish longer than the dinosaur to signify they had categorized it) than those who simply heard tones.
“…The researchers said the results were ‘striking’. The babies in the word and tone groups saw exactly the same pictures for exactly the same amount of time, but only those in the word group looked at the fish for longer” the article noted.
Previous research has also shown that babies can understand adults’ thoughts, and also that they often cry in “accents’ similar to their parents’.
A forthcoming article titled “Listen Up! Speech Is for Thinking During Infancy,” is expected to be published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences to expound on these ideas, and features one of the researchers, Northwestern University psychologist Sandra Waxman, along with New York University’s Athena Vouloumanos.
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