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To learn to speak, babies read on the lips

To learn to speak, babies read on the lips


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If we knew that babies learn to speak by listening to what they are told, American researchers have shown that they also learn by reading on the lips.

For 2 years, Prof. David J. Lewkowicz studied 179 babies aged 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 months to understand how they passed from babbling to speech.

How do babies learn to talk?

  • For it, he placed them in a high chair, facing a screen, so that they watch the video of a woman talking. And the result is without appeal. In analyzing the movements of the pupils of the children, he noticed that at 4 months, the babies are concentrated on the eyes. But from 6 months, their eyes are focused on the lips. At 12 months, they do not need it anymore and look at the eyes again.
  • According to the professor, when a baby can both hear a word and read it on the lips, his perception of sound is better.

Better detect language disorders

  • According to Professor Lewkowiczthis finding could help detect language and developmental disorders more quickly, such as autism that is not currently diagnosed until the age of 18 months. Indeed, one of the characteristics of autism is that children focus their attention on the mouth of the speaker. A toddler who continues to focus on the other person's lips beyond the age of 12 months may be at higher risk for autism.

Stéphanie Letellier

(News of 23/02/12)

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