Summary: A new study reports infants pay more attention to native speakers of their own language.
Infants pay more attention to native speakers of their language.
We are “culturally biased” right from the cradle and we tend to prefer information we receive from native speakers of our language, even when this information is not transmitted through verbal speech.
Hanna Marno, researcher at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste has carried out an experiment in which she proved that infants selectively paid attention to the informants they have previously heard speaking their own language.
In a first series of experiments, 12-month-old infants were first familiarized with native speakers of their language and foreign speakers. In a following session, the same infants were presented with short movies where each of the known speakers silently gazed toward unfamiliar objects. The analysis of the looking behaviour showed that infants looked longer at the objects indicated by the native speaker, compared to those indicated by the foreigners.
Further experiments have shown that this behaviour was replicated with 5-month-old infants already.
“Recognizing the spoken language of their interlocutors stimulates in children, even at a very early age, the social learning: infants tend to prefer information received from speakers recognized as belonging to their own cultural group. Language is a lead that guides the learning process”, Marno, first author of the study, explains.
“Though it may seem limiting, children are presented with a huge amount of stimuli, and therefore need strategies to efficiently distribute their attention potential, maximizing thus the learning of relevant inputs. Choosing native speakers of our language is a good way to be able to selectively learn from them the knowledge of our cultural environment ”
About this neuroscience research article
Source: Federica Sgorbissa – SISSA Image Source: This NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the SISSA press release. Original Research: Full open access research for “Infants’ Selectively Pay Attention to the Information They Receive from a Native Speaker of Their Language” by Hanna Marno, Bahia Guellai, Yamil Vidal, Julia Franzoi, Marina Nespor and Jacques Mehler in Frontiers in Psychology. Published online August 3 2016 doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01150
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]SISSA. “”Cultural Learners” in the Cradle.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 10 August 2016. <https://neurosciencenews.com/attention-infants-native-language-4821/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]SISSA. (2016, August 10). “Cultural Learners” in the Cradle. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved August 10, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/attention-infants-native-language-4821/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]SISSA. “”Cultural Learners” in the Cradle.” https://neurosciencenews.com/attention-infants-native-language-4821/ (accessed August 10, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Infants’ Selectively Pay Attention to the Information They Receive from a Native Speaker of Their Language
From the first moments of their life, infants show a preference for their native language, as well as toward speakers with whom they share the same language. This preference appears to have broad consequences in various domains later on, supporting group affiliations and collaborative actions in children. Here, we propose that infants’ preference for native speakers of their language also serves a further purpose, specifically allowing them to efficiently acquire culture specific knowledge via social learning. By selectively attending to informants who are native speakers of their language and who probably also share the same cultural background with the infant, young learners can maximize the possibility to acquire cultural knowledge. To test whether infants would preferably attend the information they receive from a speaker of their native language, we familiarized 12-month-old infants with a native and a foreign speaker, and then presented them with movies where each of the speakers silently gazed toward unfamiliar objects. At test, infants’ looking behavior to the two objects alone was measured. Results revealed that infants preferred to look longer at the object presented by the native speaker. Strikingly, the effect was replicated also with 5-month-old infants, indicating an early development of such preference. These findings provide evidence that young infants pay more attention to the information presented by a person with whom they share the same language. This selectivity can serve as a basis for efficient social learning by influencing how infants’ allocate attention between potential sources of information in their environment.
“Infants’ Selectively Pay Attention to the Information They Receive from a Native Speaker of Their Language” by Hanna Marno, Bahia Guellai, Yamil Vidal, Julia Franzoi, Marina Nespor and Jacques Mehler in Frontiers in Psychology. Published online August 3 2016 doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01150