July 1, 2007 at 9:04 am #22733
Note: I find this article interesting because it points to the infant capabilityi to attune to the “universal” human mind and learn any language. The ability is lost as we focus on individuating ourselves. But the core intelligence is primariliy LISTENING (kidney shen function), supported by feedback throughother shen.
It matches my experience – when we use our individuated self to LISTEN to the universal sound current, we rebirth our spiritual child.
INFANTS HAVE ‘AMAZING CAPABILITIES’ THAT ADULTS LACK
By Robin Lloyd
May 24, 2007
Babies might seem a bit dim in their first six months of life, but
researchers are getting smarter about what babies know, and the results are
The word “infant” comes from the Latin, meaning “unable to speak,” but
babies are building the foundations for babbling and language before they
are born, responding to muffled sounds that travel through amniotic fluid.
Soon after birth, infants are keen and sophisticated generalists, capable of
seeing details in the world that are visible to some other animals but
invisible to adults, older children and even slightly older infants.
Recently, scientists have learned the following:
– At a few days old, infants can pick out their native tongue from a foreign
– At 4 or 5 months, infants can lip read, matching faces on silent videos to
“ee” and “ah” sounds.
– Infants can recognize the consonants and vowels of all languages on Earth,
and they can hear the difference between foreign language sounds that elude
– Infants in their first six months can tell the difference between two
monkey faces that an older person would say are identical, and they can
match calls that monkeys make with pictures of their faces.
– Infants are rhythm experts, capable of differentiating between the beats
of their culture and another.
The latest finding, presented in the May 25 issue of the journal Science, is
that infants just 4 months old can tell whether someone is speaking in their
native tongue or not without any sound, just by watching a silent movie of
their speech. This ability disappears by the age of 8 months, however,
unless the child grows up in a bilingual environment and therefore needs to
use the skill.
In fact, all the skills outlined above decline somewhere around the time
infants pass the 6-month mark and learn to ignore information that bears
little on their immediate environment.
The new study involved showing videos to 36 infants of three bilingual
French-English speakers reciting sentences. After being trained to become
comfortable with a speaker reciting a sentence in one language, babies ages
4 and 6 months spent more time looking at a speaker reciting a sentence in a
different language — demonstrating that they could tell the difference.
“In everything that we do in our research, babies seem to come out with
these amazing capabilities,” said Whitney M. Weikum, a graduate student at
the University of British Columbia whose work is overseen by language
processing specialist Janet F. Werker. “As young infants, they come set with
abilities to make a lot of fine discriminations, and they continue to
The research also serves as a reminder that language is a multimedia
experience, said psychologist George Hollich of Purdue University.
“We don’t just see a rose,” Hollich explained. “We feel the softness of its
petals and we smell its perfume. Likewise, language isn’t just hearing or
seeing a word ‘rose.’ We immediately relate that word to a rose’s sight,
touch and smell, even the sight of a person saying that word. Ben Franklin
noted that he could ‘understand French better by the help of his
spectacles.’ This work shows that infants too can recognize some languages
solely by looking on the face.”
Weikum’s study adds to mounting evidence showing how infants move from being
“universal perceivers,” equally capable of learning any of the world’s
languages, to being specialists in the sounds, meanings and structure of
their own native tongue over the first year of life, said Hollich, who
studies infant language.
The findings raise questions about what is meant by intelligence when
speaking of young children.
“Newborns can be said to be ‘intelligent’ in that they have the ability to
almost effortlessly learn any of the world’s languages,” Hollich told
LiveScience. Some of Hollich’s research shows that babies start to
understand grammar by the age of 15 months, processing grammar and words
“We scientists consider infants more intelligent when they begin to notice
and respond to familiar things. Of course, figuring out how exactly to best
respond to familiar sights and sounds is something children will spend the
rest of their lives learning to do and that is the hallmark of what most
would consider true ‘intelligence.'”
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