Can newborns discriminate between their own cry and the cry of another newborn infant?

Dev Psychol. 1999 Mar;35(2):418-26. doi: 10.1037//0012-1649.35.2.418.


Two experiments were conducted to test whether newborns could discriminate between their own cry and the cry of another newborn infant. Facial behavior and nonnutritive sucking rate were adopted as dependent measures. In Experiment 1, 20 newborns in an awake state were presented with either their own cry or the cry of another infant. In the latter condition, newborns showed the facial expression of distress more frequently and for a longer duration. In addition, the rate of sucking decreased significantly between the pretest phase and the 1st min of presentation of another infant's cry. Newborns' responses, although delayed and less intense, showed a similar trend in Experiment 2, during which 20 newborns in a sleep state were tested with the same procedure. These results indicate the newborns' capability to discriminate between the 2 cry stimuli and show the effectiveness of a newborn cry in inducing distress signals in another newborn infant.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Crying / psychology*
  • Facial Expression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant Behavior / psychology
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Psychology, Child
  • Sucking Behavior / physiology