A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) may give researchers new understanding in language development among infants and may even assist in diagnosing autism spectrum disorders in the future. The study indicates that infants may be learning language not only through sound, as previously assumed, but also through lip reading, Mikaela Conley reports for ABC News. Four-month-old infants, along with adults, spend more time looking at the speaker’s eyes when being spoken to, At age 6 months however, babies are known to begin shifting from the eye gaze to studying mouths when people talk to them. It is during that stage when a baby’s babbling shifts from seemingly random noises into syllables and eventually into that first “mama” or “dada.” David Lewkowicz, an expert on infant perceptual development at Florida Atlantic University and lead author of the study explains, “By this time at 12 months, babies are already producing their first words and have mastered the first sounds and structures of the language.” “They no longer have to lip-read as they ramp up their first speech patterns and they are free to shift back to the eyes, where you find a great deal of social information. The eyes are the window to the brain, and by looking at the eyes, we are able to know what the other person is thinking and what they want, their desires,” he told Mikaela Conley of ABC News. The new research offers more evidence that quality face time with your tot is very important for speech development, writes Associated Press (AP) reporter Lauran Neergaard.
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