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The role of production abilities in the perception of consonant category in infants

Abstract : The influence of motor knowledge on speech perception is well established, but the func‐tional role of the motor system is still poorly understood. The present study explores the hypothesis that speech production abilities may help infants discover phonetic categories in the speech stream, in spite of coarticulation effects. To this aim, we examined the influ‐ence of babbling abilities on consonant categorization in 6- and 9-month-old infants. Usingan intersensory matching procedure, we investigated the infants’ capacity to associate au‐ditory information about a consonant in various vowel contexts with visual information about the same consonant, and to map auditory and visual information onto a common phoneme representation. Moreover, a parental questionnaire evaluated the infants’ con‐sonantal repertoire. In a first experiment using /b/–/d/ consonants, we found that infants who displayed babbling abilities and produced the /b/ and/or the /d/ consonants in repeti‐tive sequences were able to correctly perform intersensory matching, while non‐babblers were not. In a second experiment using the /v/–/z/ pair, which is as visually contrasted as the /b/–/d/ pair but which is usually not produced at the tested ages, no significant match‐ing was observed, for any group of infants, babbling or not. These results demonstrate, for the first time, that the emergence of babbling could play a role in the extraction of vowel‐independent representations for consonant place of articulation. They have important implications for speech perception theories, as they highlight the role of sensorimotor in‐teractions in the development of phoneme representations during the first year of life
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-02075827
Contributor : Anne Vilain <>
Submitted on : Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 4:11:43 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, May 14, 2020 - 1:32:56 AM

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Anne Vilain, Marjorie Dole, Hélène Loevenbruck, Olivier Pascalis, Jean-Luc Schwartz. The role of production abilities in the perception of consonant category in infants. Developmental Science, Wiley, 2019, 22 (6), pp.e12830. ⟨10.1111/desc.12830⟩. ⟨hal-02075827⟩

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