Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Science & Space

Study: Human babies speak lemur but only for a few months

See also

Alissa Ferry, a postdoctoral fellow in the Language, Cognition and Development Lab at the Scuola Internationale Superiore di Studi Avanzati in Trieste, Italy, with colleagues from Northwestern University are the first to document that human babies can learn from non-human primate vocalizations just like human babies learn from human speech in the Sept. 3, 2013, edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Human children that are three to four months of age cannot speak a language but research has documented that children of this age begin to form the ability to categorize objects, persons, and information from hearing human speech.

The researchers proposed a test of the response of human children to non-human primate vocalizations.

Human children were exposed to the taped vocalizations of lemurs. The children were three to four months of age.

The children demonstrated the same category formation response to lemur vocalizations that they did to human speech. Tapes of the lemur vocalizations played backwards did not produce the same mental development responses. Tapes of human speech played backward did not elicit the learning response either.

The ability to respond to lemur speech disappeared at age six months in the test subject children.

The researchers propose that the learning response in babies may be evolutionary and that language and learning have a non-human origin based on the experimental results.

Advertisement

News

  • Border crisis
    Although Washington agrees on a solution, the border crisis isn't being solved
    Video
    Watch Video
  • Israel, Gaza conflict
    All-out war is rapidly reaching its boiling point in Gaza
    World News
  • Murder rates down, gun ownership up
    Gun ownership increases as murders and violent crime rates fall; coincidence?
    Headlines
  • Dems fight Hobby Lobby decision
    House democrats introduce a bill to overturn the Hobby Lobby ruling
    Politics
  • LeBron undecided
    LeBron James brings the NBA to a standstill as he has yet to make a decision
    Sports
  • Emmy nominations
    The nominations for the 2014 Emmys are in, did your favorite show make the cut?
    TV

Related Videos:

  • Bay Area Refinery Walk connects exploding oil trains with the climate crisis
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518216536" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518216536&autoStart=true"></div>
  • Red deer stag, Wollaton Park, Nottingham, United Kingdom.
    <div class="video-info" data-id="517815960" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=517815960&autoStart=true"></div>
  • Tourists at the entrance to Denisova Cave, Russia.
    <div class="video-info" data-id="518037673" data-param-name="playList" data-provider="5min" data-url="http://pshared.5min.com/Scripts/PlayerSeed.js?sid=1304&width=480&height=401&playList=518037673&autoStart=true"></div>