Researchers shed light on how children learn to speak

January 9, 2012, Queen's University

Researchers have discovered that children under the age of two control speech using a different strategy than previously thought.

During the study at Queen's University, the researchers changed the vowel sounds that the participants heard over headphones as they talked. They found that while the adults and young children changed their vowel sounds in response to this altered feedback, the toddlers did not.

"We were very surprised to find that the two-year-olds do not monitor their own voice when speaking in the same way as adults do," says Ewen MacDonald, a former Queen's research associate and now associate professor at the Technical University of Denmark. "As they play music, violinists will listen to the notes they produce to ensure they are in tune. If they aren't, they will adjust the position of their to bring the notes back in tune. When we speak, we do something very similar. We subconsciously listen to vowel and consonant sounds in our speech to ensure we are producing them correctly."

The researchers have proven that toddlers use a different strategy to control speech than adults. They still have not pinpointed the exact method under two use when learning to control speech. Future studies are being developed to determine what strategy toddlers are using.

"Understanding the development of speech is a complex and challenging problem. Using novel techniques, such as the ones used in this experiment, we can isolate and better understand how the different components of speech develop," says Dr MacDonald. One possibility is that rely on the interaction with the person they are talking to in order to judge the accuracy of their speech sounds.

The research was recently published in .

Explore further: Toddlers don't listen to their own voice like adults do

Related Stories

Toddlers don't listen to their own voice like adults do

December 22, 2011
When grown-ups and kids speak, they listen to the sound of their voice and make corrections based on that auditory feedback. But new evidence shows that toddlers don't respond to their own voice in quite the same way, according ...

Recommended for you

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

Reducing sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy does not affect effectiveness

January 17, 2018
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) patients treated with as few as five sessions of trauma-focused psychotherapy find it equally effective as receiving 12 sessions.

Baby brains help infants figure it out before they try it out

January 17, 2018
Babies often amaze their parents when they seemingly learn new skills overnight—how to walk, for example. But their brains were probably prepping for those tasks long before their first steps occurred, according to researchers.

How past intentions influence generosity toward the future

January 17, 2018
Over time, it really is the thought that counts – provided we know what that thought was, suggests new research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Tracking the impact of early abuse and neglect

January 17, 2018
Children who experience abuse and neglect early in life are more likely to have problems in social relationships and underachieve academically as adults.

Study: No evidence to support link between violent video games and behaviour

January 16, 2018
Researchers at the University of York have found no evidence to support the theory that video games make players more violent.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.