Speech Perception in Infants

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Science  22 Jan 1971:
Vol. 171, Issue 3968, pp. 303-306
DOI: 10.1126/science.171.3968.303


Discriminiationi of synthetic speech sounds was studied in 1- and 4-month-old infants. The speech sounds varied along an acoustic dimension previously shown to cue phonemic distinctions among the voiced and voiceless stop consonants in adults. Discriminability was measured by an increase in conditioned response rate to a second speech sound after habituation to the first speech sound. Recovery from habituation was greater for a given acoustic difference when the two stimuli were from different adult phonemic categories than when they were from the same category. The discontinuity in discrimination at the region of the adult phonemic boundary was taken as evidence for categorical perception.