Athena Vouloumanos, NYU
Like many animals, human infants have biases for the vocalizations of their own species, preferring speech to many non-speech sounds just hours after birth. How do these early proclivities develop and how do they contribute to human communicative development? In her talk, Athena Vouloumanos will draw from behavioral and neural data to discuss how early human perceptual biases are quickly refined and how infants come to recognize that speech is a means for communication, allowing one person to transfer information to others. Before preverbal infants produce or understand many words, they recognize how speech is used by others to communicate about different types of entities in the world. This early communicative competence may provide infants with a channel for learning from others and lay a foundation for our social and cultural life as humans.