'Baby Talk' May Play Key Role in Language Acquisition 08/12/10
THURSDAY, Aug. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Experience, gender and
personality appear to influence the "baby talk" parents use when
interacting with their infants, say Japanese researchers.
Baby talk is found across languages and cultures, but the brain
mechanisms that underlie it are not known.
Reiko Mazuka, Yoshi-Taka Matsuda and colleagues at the Riken
Brain Science Institute in Tokyo used functional MRI to assess
brain activity in 35 first-time parents whose infants hadn't
started to speak (preverbal) and compared them to 30 men and women
without any parenting experience. The study also included 16
mothers with toddlers who spoke two-word utterances and 18 mothers
with children in elementary school.
The participants' brain activity was monitored while they
listened to recorded baby talk, which triggers brain activation
patterns similar to those that occur when someone speaks baby talk,
also called infant-directed speech (IDS).
The brain scans showed that mothers with preverbal infants had
increased brain activity in areas of the brain that govern
language. This heightened brain activity did not occur in any other
group, including mothers whose children had started to speak,
according to a Riken news release.
Among mothers with preverbal infants, those who were extroverts
also had increased cortical activation in speech-related motor
areas of the brain, the investigators found.
The results show that there are clear distinctions in how people
process and generate IDS. This is evidence that baby talk acts as a
link for linguistic transfer from mother to infant and plays a
crucial role in the early stages of infant language acquisition,
the researchers concluded.
The findings were released online Aug. 5 in advance of
publication in an upcoming print issue of the journal
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association outlines
activities to encourage speech and language
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