CANCELLED: Kathleen Wermke (University Hospital, University Würzburg, Germany)
**This event has been cancelled**
Title: Prosodic Primitives: Development of Melody Complexity of infants’ cry and noncry vocalisations across the first six months
The human infant is the most proficient vocal learner and differs from his primate relatives in that he is specifically pre-adapted to acquire oral language. Melody (fundamental frequency contour) is a key entity to understand early language development. Infants from all cultures seem to pass through the same early stages of melody development at the same phase of their life history, long before vocabulary and grammar are established. Vocal development starts with an increasing complexification of melody over the first few months of life. The presentation will demonstrate what we mean by complexification of vocalisation melody, how complex melodies are composed and modified, and why melody development marks crucial stages of early language acquisition.
Along with adolescence, the neonatal period is a time when hormones may contribute to long-lasting, sexually dimorphic patterns of behavioural performance. This postnatal period of elevated hormone levels in both sexes is known as ‘mini-puberty”. The transitory surge of sex steroids within the first months of life is associated with dramatic developing brain changes, as well as the start of language-relevant vocal development in human infants. Recently, we found a significant positive association between mini-pubertal estradiol surges and early vocal performances (cry melody complexity, articulatory skills in babbling). These findings seem to bridge infant research to research in songbirds, whose song learning has been postulated as modelling babbling in human infants.
Kathleen Wermke currently works at the Center for Pre-Speech Development & Developmental Disorders, University Hospital of Wuerzburg. Kathleen does research in Infant Development, Medical Anthropology and Evolutionary Biology.
When: Tuesday, April 28, 1:30pm
Where: 2001 McGill-College, room 461
Coffee will be served. We encourage you to bring you own reusable mug.
Accessibility: The event will be held in an accessible building (note that the wheelchair-accessible entrance is on McGill-College; the entrance from Sherbrooke St has a few steps). Participants are invited to make us aware of any barriers to their participation or any accommodations that we can provide. firstname.lastname@example.org