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Dev Sci. 2004 Feb;7(1):42-7.

Auditory-oral matching behavior in newborns.

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Department of Psychology, University of Connecticut, USA.


Twenty-five newborn infants were tested for auditory-oral matching behavior when presented with the consonant sound /m/ and the vowel sound /a/ - a precursor behavior to vocal imitation. Auditory-oral matching behavior by the infant was operationally defined as showing the mouth movement appropriate for producing the model sound just heard (mouth opening for /a/ and mouth clutching for /m/), even when the infant produced no sound herself. With this new dependent measure, the current study is the first to show matching behavior to consonant sounds in newborns: infants showed significantly more instances of mouth opening after /a/ models than after /m/ models, and more instances of mouth clutching after /m/ models than after /a/ models. The results are discussed in the context of theories of active intermodal mapping and innate releasing mechanisms.

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