Athena Vouloumanos

Learn More
The nature and origin of the human capacity for acquiring language is not yet fully understood. Here we uncover early roots of this capacity by demonstrating that humans are born with a preference for listening to speech. Human neonates adjusted their high amplitude sucking to preferentially listen to speech, compared with complex non-speech analogues that(More)
Do young infants treat speech as a special signal, compared with structurally similar non-speech sounds? We presented 2- to 7-month-old infants with nonsense speech sounds and complex non-speech analogues. The non-speech analogues retain many of the spectral and temporal properties of the speech signal, including the pitch contour information which is known(More)
In everyday word learning words are only sometimes heard in the presence of their referent, making the acquisition of novel words a particularly challenging task. The current study investigated whether children (18-month-olds who are novice word learners) can track the statistics of co-occurrence between words and objects to learn novel mappings in a(More)
Perceptual experiences in one modality are often dependent on activity from other sensory modalities. These cross-modal correspondences are also evident in language. Adults and toddlers spontaneously and consistently map particular words (e.g., 'kiki') to particular shapes (e.g., angular shapes). However, the origins of these systematic mappings are(More)
Thought disorder is a fundamental symptom of schizophrenia, observable as irregularities in speech. It has been associated with functional and structural abnormalities in brain regions involved in language processing, including left temporal regions, during language production tasks. We were interested in the neural correlates of thought disorder during(More)
This study shows that 4- and 6-month-old infants can discriminate languages (English from French) just from viewing silently presented articulations. By the age of 8 months, only bilingual (French-English) infants succeed at this task. These findings reveal a surprisingly early preparedness for visual language discrimination and highlight infants'(More)
Human neonates prefer listening to speech compared to many nonspeech sounds, suggesting that humans are born with a bias for speech. However, neonates' preference may derive from properties of speech that are not unique but instead are shared with the vocalizations of other species. To test this, thirty neonates and sixteen 3-month-olds were presented with(More)
An essential part of the human capacity for language is the ability to link conceptual or semantic representations with syntactic representations. On the basis of data from spontaneous production, suggested that young children acquire such links on a verb-by-verb basis, with little in the way of a general understanding of linguistic argument structure.(More)
The goal of this study was to explore the ability to discriminate languages using the visual correlates of speech (i.e., speech-reading). Participants were presented with silent video clips of an actor pronouncing two sentences (in Catalan and/or Spanish) and were asked to judge whether the sentences were in the same language or in different languages. Our(More)