Language discrimination by human newborns and by cotton-top tamarin monkeys

Ramus, Franck and Hauser, Marc D. and Miller, Cory and Morris, Dylan and Mehler, Jacques (2000) Language discrimination by human newborns and by cotton-top tamarin monkeys. [Journal (Paginated)]

This is the latest version of this eprint.

Full text available as:

[img] PDF


Humans, but no other animal, make meaningful use of spoken language. What is unclear, however, is whether this capacity depends on a unique constellation of perceptual and neurobiological mechanisms, or whether a subset of such mechanisms are shared with other organisms. To explore this problem, we conducted parallel experiments on human newborns and cotton-top tamarin monkeys to assess their ability to discriminate unfamiliar languages. Using a habituation-dishabituation procedure, we show that human newborns and tamarins can discriminate sentences from Dutch and Japanese, but not if the sentences are played backwards. Moreover, the cues for discrimination are not present in backward speech. This suggests that the human newborns' tuning to certain properties of speech relies on general processes of the primate auditory system.

Item Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:language discrimination rhythm comparative speech perception tamarin newborn evolution
Subjects:Biology > Animal Cognition
Linguistics > Phonology
ID Code:1158
Deposited By: Ramus, Dr Franck
Deposited On:19 Dec 2000
Last Modified:11 Mar 2011 08:54

Available Versions of this Item

References in Article

Select the SEEK icon to attempt to find the referenced article. If it does not appear to be in cogprints you will be forwarded to the paracite service. Poorly formated references will probably not work.

1. N. Chomsky, Language and Problems of Knowledge. (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1988).

2. S. Pinker, The Language Instinct. (William Morrow and Company, Inc., New York, 1994).

3. A. Doupe, P. Kuhl, Ann. Rev. Neurosci. 22, 567 (1999)

4. A. Ghazanfar, M. D. Hauser, Trends in Cognitive Science 3, 377 (1999).

5. E. S. Spelke, E. L. Newport, in Handbook of Child Psychology, Volume 1: Theoretical Models of Human Development R. M. Lerner, Ed. (Wiley, New York, 1998) pp. 275-340.

6. P. D. Eimas, E. R. Siqueland, P. W. Jusczyk, J. Vigorito, Science 171, 303 (1971).

7. J. Bertoncini, J. Mehler, Infant Behavior and Development 4, 247 (1981).

8. J. Bertoncini, C. Floccia, T. Nazzi, J. Mehler, Language and Speech 38, 311 (1995).

9. R. Bijeljac-Babic, J. Bertoncini, J. Mehler, Developmental Psychology 29, 711 (1993).

10. J. Mehler, et al., Cognition 29, 143 (1988).

11. T. Nazzi, J. Bertoncini, J. Mehler, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 24, 756 (1998).

12. H. J. Neville, D. L. Mills, Mental retardation and developmental disabilities research reviews 3, 282 (1997).

13. D. Perani, et al., NeuroReport 7, 2439 (1996).

14. G. Ehret, B. Haack, Naturwissenshaften, 68, 208 (1981).

15. R. A. Wyttenbach, M. L. May, R. R. Hoy, Science 273, 1542 (1996).

16. P. K. Kuhl, J. D. Miller, Science 190, 69 (1975).

17. P. Kuhl, in Categorical perception: The groundwork of cognition S. Harnad, Ed. (Cambridge University Press, 1987) pp. 355-386.

18. M. D. Hauser, The evolution of communication (Bradford Books/MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996).

19. T. Dutoit, V. Pagel, N. Pierret, F. Bataille, O. van der Vrecken, The MBROLA Project: Towards a set of high-quality speech synthesizers free of use for non-commercial purposes, ICSLP'96, Philadelphia (1996).

20. F. Ramus, J. Mehler, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 105, 512 (1999).

21. A. Christophe, E. Dupoux, J. Bertoncini, J. Mehler, Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 95, 1570 (1994).

25. P. W. Jusczyk, D. B. Pisoni, J. Mullenix, Cognition 43, 253 (1992).


Repository Staff Only: item control page