Two-Year-Olds Make Use Of Auditory Feedback Differently

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Auditory feedback has always been a useful feature of the human body; this is very important in clear communication. We are able to take note of the sounds of our voice and correct ourselves next time, if ever we detect an error. These habits are commonly done by grown-ups and children when they speak. However, are toddlers already capable of this mechanism? This has been responded to by the report that can be found online in Current Biology, dated December 22. According to a new proof, toddlers do not act in response to their own voice, in a similar way with adults.

The researchers stated that their study results revealed that children in the stage of toddlerhood might have some other means of controlling their speech production. Ewen MacDonald, from the Technical University of Denmark, made a comparison between a violinist and a normal person. He elaborated that violinists would listen to the notes emanated as they play the violin, so that they will know if they are in the appropriate tune. They tend to make adjustments in their fingers’ position to be in the correct tune. This is the same way we act when we talk. To be certain that the right sounds are produced, we listen subconsciously to the vowel and consonant sounds.  If we find some errors in our sounds while we speak, we tend to adjust so that we can speak in the correct manner. He shared their discovery that kid aged 4 years old are able to monitor their speech, in a similar manner that adults do. However, it is striking to find that those aging 2 years old are not capable of this.

There is a deviation between this observation and the known fact that infants can readily sense small difference in their pronunciation of recognizable words. Furthermore, infants babble in a way that is parallel to their native tongue. American two-year-olds ordinarily are capable of a 300-word vocabulary and are consistent in the way of adapting their native tongue’s sound structure.

Moreover, in the experiment, the adults, 4-year-olds, and 2-year-olds were made to utter the word “bed” repetitively, at the same time, they listen to themselves speaking the word “bad”. The research team utilized a video game where the players (young children and toddlers) aid the robot cross a virtual playground through uttering “bed”, which is the robot’s magic word.

According to MacDonald, when adults repeat the word a couple of times, they gradually compensate wherein they modify their manner of articulating the vowel. Furthermore, they utter the word quite similarly with “bid”. An adjustment in speech was also observed in 4-year-olds, but not in2-year-olds, who persistently say “bed”.

MacDonald believed that the findings imply the necessity to re-evaluate the conjecture regarding the process of using auditory feedback by children. He further said that instead of listening to their own voice, 2 year old kids might be dependent on their parents or others in checking how they speak. This can be because caregivers repeat back frequently to these toddlers the words they heard from them. In conclusion, MacDonald stated that this research can contribute in investigating and responding to the problem of speech development delay and abnormality.




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