Language acquisition

Evolutionary precursors of speech perceptual capacities

A collaboration with Marc Hauser (Harvard) has allowed me to compare the perceptual capacities of human newborns with those of monkeys. Our results were rather unexpected:

Ramus, F., Hauser, M. D., Miller, C., Morris, D., & Mehler, J. (2000). Language discrimination by human newborns and by cotton-top tamarin monkeys. Science, 288, 349-351. (abstract and reprint)(supplementary material)

Such comparative work has continued with the help of Ruth Tincoff and others: 

Tincoff, R., Hauser, M., Tsao, F., Spaepen, G., Ramus, F., & Mehler, J. (2005). The role of speech rhythm in language discrimination: Further tests with a nonhuman primate. Developmental Science, 8(1), 26-35. reprint

The Neurocom project went on to investigate the neural basis of the evolutionary precursors of speech perceptual capacities.