Saturday, May 26, 2007


  • At a few days old, infants can pick out their native tongue from a foreign one.
  • At 4 or 5 months, infants can lip read, matching faces on silent videos to "ee" and "ah" sounds.
  • Infants can recognize the consonants and vowels of all languages on Earth, and they can hear the difference between foreign language sounds that elude most adults.
  • Infants in their first six months can tell the difference between two monkey faces that an older person would say are identical, and they can match calls that monkeys make with pictures of their faces.
  • Infants are rhythm experts, capable of differentiating between the beats of their culture and another.

The latest finding, presented in the May 25 issue of the journal Science, is that infants just 4 months old can tell whether someone is speaking in their native tongue or not without any sound, just by watching a silent movie of their speech. This ability disappears by the age of 8 months, however, unless the child grows up in a bilingual environment and therefore needs to use the skill.


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