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An investigation of young infants' perceptual representations of speech sounds

The present study examined the ability of newborns and 2-month-olds to detect phonetic differences between syllables. By relying on the modified high-amplitude sucking procedure, which did not permit the infants to use a simple same-different response, the present experiments tapped the perceptual representations of the speech sounds. Infants as young as a few days old displayed some capacity to represent differences in a set of syllables varying in their phonetic composition, although there was no convincing evidence that their representations were structured in terms of phonetic segments. Finally, evidence of developmental changes in speech processing were noted for the first time with infants in this age range. The change noted was a tendency from global toward more specific representations on the part of the older infants. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)



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