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Early influence of auditory stimuli on upper-limb movements in young human infants: an overview

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      Given that the auditory system is rather well developed at the end of the third trimester of pregnancy, it is likely that couplings between acoustics and motor activity can be integrated as early as at the beginning of postnatal life. The aim of the present mini-review was to summarize and discuss studies on early auditory-motor integration, focusing particularly on upper-limb movements (one of the most crucial means to interact with the environment) in association with auditory stimuli, to develop further understanding of their significance with regard to early infant development. Many studies have investigated the relationship between various infant behaviors (e.g., sucking, visual fixation, head turning) and auditory stimuli, and established that human infants can be observed displaying couplings between action and environmental sensory stimulation already from just after birth, clearly indicating a propensity for intentional behavior. Surprisingly few studies, however, have investigated the associations between upper-limb movements and different auditory stimuli in newborns and young infants, infants born at risk for developmental disorders/delays in particular. Findings from studies of early auditory-motor interaction support that the developing integration of sensory and motor systems is a fundamental part of the process guiding the development of goal-directed action in infancy, of great importance for continued motor, perceptual, and cognitive development. At-risk infants (e.g., those born preterm) may display increasing central auditory processing disorders, negatively affecting early sensory-motor integration, and resulting in long-term consequences on gesturing, language development, and social communication. Consequently, there is a need for more studies on such implications.

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      Developing language in a developing body: the relationship between motor development and language development.

       Jana Iverson (2010)
      ABSTRACTDuring the first eighteen months of life, infants acquire and refine a whole set of new motor skills that significantly change the ways in which the body moves in and interacts with the environment. In this review article, I argue that motor acquisitions provide infants with an opportunity to practice skills relevant to language acquisition before they are needed for that purpose; and that the emergence of new motor skills changes infants' experience with objects and people in ways that are relevant for both general communicative development and the acquisition of language. Implications of this perspective for current views of co-occurring language and motor impairments and for methodology in the field of child language research are also considered.
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        Intonation and communicative intent in mothers' speech to infants: is the melody the message?

        This study explores the power of intonation to convey meaningful information about the communicative intent of the speaker in speech addressed to preverbal infants and in speech addressed to adults. Natural samples of infant- and adult-directed speech were recorded from 5 mothers of 12-month-old infants, in 5 standardized interactional contexts: Attention-bid, Approval, Prohibition, Comfort, and Game/Telephone. 25 infant-directed and 25 adult-directed vocalizations were electronically filtered to eliminate linguistic content. The content-filtered speech stimuli were presented to 80 adult subjects: 40 experienced parents and 40 students inexperienced with infants. The subjects' task was to identify the communicative intent of the speaker using only prosodic information, given a 5-alternative forced choice. Listeners were able to use intonation to identify the speaker's intent with significantly higher accuracy in infant-directed speech than in adult-directed speech. These findings suggest that the prosodic patterns of speech to infants are more informative than those of adult-adult speech, and may provide the infant with reliable cues to the communicative intent of the speaker. The interpretation of these results proposed here is that the relation of prosodic form to communicative function is made uniquely salient in the melodies of mothers' speech, and that these characteristic prosodic patterns are potentially meaningful to the preverbal infant.
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          Newborn infants detect the beat in music.

          To shed light on how humans can learn to understand music, we need to discover what the perceptual capabilities with which infants are born. Beat induction, the detection of a regular pulse in an auditory signal, is considered a fundamental human trait that, arguably, played a decisive role in the origin of music. Theorists are divided on the issue whether this ability is innate or learned. We show that newborn infants develop expectation for the onset of rhythmic cycles (the downbeat), even when it is not marked by stress or other distinguishing spectral features. Omitting the downbeat elicits brain activity associated with violating sensory expectations. Thus, our results strongly support the view that beat perception is innate.

            Author and article information

            1Department of Pedagogy of Human Movement, São Paulo University, São Paulo Brazil
            2Physical Education Course, Institute of Health Sciences, Paulista University, São Paulo Brazil
            3Department of Psychology, Umeå University, Umeå Sweden
            Author notes

            Edited by: Rana Esseily, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre la Defense, France

            Reviewed by: Moritz M. Daum, University of Zurich, Switzerland; Joëlle Provasi, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, France

            *Correspondence: Priscilla A. M. Ferronato, Physical Education Course, Institute of Health Science, Paulista University, Avenida Yogiro Takaoka 3500, 06541-038 Santana de Parnaíba, São Paulo, Brazil e-mail: pamalves@

            This article was submitted to Developmental Psychology, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

            Front Psychol
            Front Psychol
            Front. Psychol.
            Frontiers in Psychology
            Frontiers Media S.A.
            18 September 2014
            : 5
            4166959 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01043
            Copyright © 2014 Ferronato, Domellöf and Rönnqvist.

            This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

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