Infants Attribute Agency When Hearing Speech-Like Communication - according to new research by two members of CEU’s Department of Cognitive Science
Infants younger than 11 months are able to recognize exchanges of speech-like communication between two entities and attribute agency to those entities, according to new research by two members of CEU’s Department of Cognitive Science.
In the paper “Variability of signal sequences in turn-taking exchanges induces agency attribution in 10.5-mo-olds” published in PNAS, Tibor Tauzin, a post-doctoral researcher, and Professor Gyorgy Gergely find that infants assign agency—or the ability to act—to unfamiliar entities when those entities “communicate” with each other by taking turns making variable sounds, as humans do when conversing. When two entities make repetitive sounds that do not resemble the auditory patterns of human speech or when only one entity makes sounds, the infants do not assign agency to the entities.
“These results suggest that even pre-verbal infants are sensitive to some abstract properties of communication, which may help them to acquire their first language and to learn from others from very early on,” said Tauzin.