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The Science of Charismatic Voices

When a right-wing Italian politician named Umberto Bossi suffered a severe stroke in 2004, his speech became permanently impaired. Strangely, this change impacted Bossi’s perception among his party’s followers -- from appearing authoritarian to benevolent. Now researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles think they know why.

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Hearing Loss in One Infant Twin Affects Mother’s Speech to Both Babies

Is it possible that hearing loss in one infant from a pair of twins can affect the mother’s speech to both infants? A new acoustics study zeroes in on this question and suggests that not only is this alteration of speech entirely possible, but that mothers speak to both infants as if they are hearing impaired.

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Medicine

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Ultrasound Guides Tongue to Pronounce “R” Sounds

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Using ultrasound technology to visualize the tongue’s shape and movement can help children with difficulty pronouncing “r” sounds, according to a small study by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and Montclair State University.

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A New Tune: There Is Intonation in Sign Language Too

Intonation is an integral part of communication for all speakers. But can sign languages have intonation? A new study at the University of Haifa shows that signers use their faces to create intonational ‘melodies’ just as speakers use their voices, and that the melodies of the face can differ from one sign language to another.

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Children Understand Familiar Voices Better Than Those of Strangers

Familiar voices can improve spoken language processing among school-age children, according to a study by NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. However, the advantage of hearing a familiar voice only helps children to process and understand words they already know well, not new words that aren’t in their vocabularies.

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Life

Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Kids' Oral Language Skills Can Predict Future Writing Difficulties

Children's future writing difficulties can be identified before they even learn how to begin writing, according to a new study by Professor Phaedra Royle and Postdoctoral fellow Alexandra Marquis of the University of Montreal’s School of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology.

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Improving Babies’ Language Skills Before They’re Even Old Enough to Speak

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In the first months of life, when babies begin to distinguish sounds that make up language from all the other sounds in the world, they can be trained to more effectively recognize which sounds “might” be language, accelerating the development of the brain maps which are critical to language acquisition and processing, according to new by April Benasich and colleagues of Rutgers University-Newark -- published in the October 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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Life

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Diverse Neighborhoods May Help Infants’ Social Learning

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Experiencing diverse communities by hearing different languages at the park, on a bus or in the grocery store may make babies more open-minded in their social learning, a new study finds.

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Life

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Parents, Listen Next Time Your Baby Babbles

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Parents who try to understand their baby's babbling let their infants know they can communicate, which leads to children forming complex sounds and using language more quickly. That’s according to a new study by the University of Iowa and Indiana University.

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Hand Gestures Improve Learning in Both Signers and Speakers

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Spontaneous gesture can help children learn, whether they use a spoken language or sign language, according to a new report.

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