Auditory-oral matching behavior in newborns

Dev Sci. 2004 Feb;7(1):42-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2004.00321.x.


Twenty-five newborn infants were tested for auditory-oral matching behavior when presented with the consonant sound /m/ and the vowel sound /a/ - a precursor behavior to vocal imitation. Auditory-oral matching behavior by the infant was operationally defined as showing the mouth movement appropriate for producing the model sound just heard (mouth opening for /a/ and mouth clutching for /m/), even when the infant produced no sound herself. With this new dependent measure, the current study is the first to show matching behavior to consonant sounds in newborns: infants showed significantly more instances of mouth opening after /a/ models than after /m/ models, and more instances of mouth clutching after /m/ models than after /a/ models. The results are discussed in the context of theories of active intermodal mapping and innate releasing mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Imitative Behavior / physiology*
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Language Development
  • Male
  • Mouth / physiology
  • Sound*