Babies do not listen to themselves when they speak

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2011, 14:58 PM IST

Washington: A new study has revealed that toddlers do not listen to their own voice when they speak, like adults do.

When grown-ups and kids speak, they listen to the sound of their voice and make corrections based on that auditory feedback, but the new study said that babies do not respond to their own voice in quite the same way.

According to researchers, the findings suggest that very young children have some other strategy to control their speech production.

“As they play music, violinists will listen to the notes they produce to ensure they are in tune,” Ewen MacDonald of the Technical University of Denmark said.

“If they aren’t, they will adjust the position of their fingers to bring the notes back in tune.

“When we speak, we do something very similar. We subconsciously listen to vowel and consonant sounds in our speech to ensure we are producing them correctly.

“If the acoustics of our speech are slightly different from what we intended, then, like the violinists, we will adjust the way we speak to correct for these slight errors.

“In our study, we found that four-year-olds monitor their own speech in the same way as adults. Surprisingly, two-year-olds do not,” he claimed.

In the experiment, adults, four-year-olds, and two-year-olds said the word “bed” repeatedly while simultaneously hearing themselves say the word “bad.”

“If they repeat this several times, adults spontaneously compensate, changing the way they say the vowel,” MacDonald said.

“Instead of saying the word ‘bed,’ they say something more like the word ‘bid’,” he added.

Four-year-olds adjusted their speech, too. But the two-year-olds, on the other hand, kept right on saying “bed.”