Neonatal Speech Perception

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  • Newborns' ability to perceive speech has been the focus of experimental investigations since the late 1960s. Research into neonatal speech perception is particularly relevant for the understanding of language development as it provides an understanding of the initial state from which speech and language subsequently develop. The characterization of this initial state has been of particular interest for the nature-nurture debate, that is, for the question of whether human knowledge, in general, and language, in particular, is mostly innate (nature) or learned (nurture).

    This question was mostly raised in the form of a clear-cut dichotomy in the second half of the 20th century, but in the last 10 to 15 years, it has become evident that both genetically endowed and experience-driven mechanisms play an important role, ...

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