Neonatal Preference for Speech

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  • Across the animal kingdom, different species show biases for the vocalizations of their conspecifics; humans are no different. Human neonates are born with biases that allow them to orient to specific sounds, such as speech relative to certain nonspeech sounds or a mother's voice over a stranger's voice, which helps organize their auditory environment. Preferences during the neonatal period are not limited to sounds heard prenatally. Moreover, neonatal biases become rapidly tuned to privilege speech relative to other sounds over the next few months of life. Early speech biases and rapid attunement may provide a means of organizing information in the neonate's auditory world. Preferences for conspecific stimuli such as speech and faces have been proposed to be evolutionarily derived biases that orient infants to ...

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