Infant and Child Development

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Volume 27 Issue 4 (July/August 2018), Pages

Goldilocks versus Goldlöckchen: Visual speech preference for same‐rhythm‐class languages in 6‐month‐old infants

Abstract

The present study investigated German‐learning 6‐month‐old infants' preference for visual speech. Visual stimuli in the infants' native language (German) were contrasted with stimuli in a foreign language with similar rhythmical characteristics (English). In a visual preference task, infants were presented with 2 side‐by‐side silent video clips of the same speaker reciting a nursery rhyme simultaneously in German and English. To assess spontaneous preference for native or non‐native visual speech, we computed preference scores towards the English‐ and German‐speaking faces. The findings of the present study revealed a sex difference in visual speech preference. Only female infants exhibited a visual preference, by attending longer to the English‐speaking face. Notably, the present study provides the first evidence for sex differences in visual speech preference in infancy.

Highlights

  • Visual speech preference was tested in 6‐month‐old German‐learning infants.
  • Infants were tested with a preferential looking task contrasting German and English language.
  • Only female infants displayed a visual preference toward English visual speech suggesting a sex difference in infants' visual speech processing.

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