[Source: Science Daily]
According to the researchers, this reveals that as early as 3 to 4 months, infants’ advances in speech processing play a central role in their establishment of a language-cognition link.
Previous work in the researchers’ lab had found that for infants at 3 to 4 months, listening to both human vocalizations (their native language) and nonhuman primate vocalizations (lemur calls) boosted cognition. But it remained unknown whether all human languages would have this advantageous effect.
In the current study, the researchers considered English-acquiring 3- to-4-month-old infants’ responses to one of two nonnative languages — German or Cantonese — in the context of the classic object categorization task in which infants first view a series of “familiarization” images from one object category (e.g., dinosaurs). Then they simultaneously view two new “test” images: a new example from the familiarized category (e.g., another dinosaur; “familiar object”) and a new exemplar from a novel category (e.g., a fish; “novel object”). Infants’ ability to distinguish between the familiar and novel test images, measured by looking times, indicates whether they have formed the object category.