"If only babies could talk!" - a phrase that ran through a new mother's or father's mind at least one in their parenting journey. Well, according to Patricia Kuhl, Ph.D, they can!
Dr. Kuhl, who is co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at The University of Washington, has been internationally recognized for her research on early language and brain development, and for her studies on how young children learn.
Not only does Kuhl’s research point us in the direction of how babies learn to process phonemes, the sound units upon which many languages are built, but it is part of a larger body of studies looking at infants across languages and cultures that has revolutionized our understanding of language development over the last half of the 20th century—leading to, as Kuhl puts it, “a new view of language acquisition, that accounts for both the initial state of linguistic knowledge in infants, and infants’ extraordinary ability to learn simply by listening to their native language.”
Babies are born with 100 billion neurons, about the same as the number of stars in the Milky Way. In The Whole Brain Child, Daniel Siegel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD explain that when we undergo an experience, these brain cells respond through changes in patterns of electrical activity—in other words, they “fire” electrical signals called “action potentials.”
In a child’s first years of life, the brain exhibits extraordinary neuroplasticity, refining its circuits in response to environmental experiences. Synapses—the sites of communication between neurons—are built, strengthened, weakened and pruned away as needed. Since brain circuits organize and reorganize themselves in response to an infant’s interactions with his or her environment, exposing babies to a variety of positive experiences (such as talking, cuddling, reading, singing, and playing in different environments) not only helps tune babies in to the language of their culture, but it also builds a foundation for developing the attention, cognition, memory, social-emotional, language and literacy, and sensory and motor skills that will help them reach their potential later on, something Susanne Zeedyk, Ph.D, who we know thanks to Stokke extensive research that is heavily implemented into Stokke product development, talked about for years now.
As we talked many times about connection with the child and importance of communication during the earliest days of childhood ( baby-hood really), we used the information based on studies, theories and observations.
What if you were told that psychologists and early childhood development scientists found the way to prove all the facts the theoretical studies confirmed? In the video below, Patricia Kuhl talks about the discoveries in relation to multilingual babies and the way the developmental scientists confirmed it will blow your mind away.
10 minutes that will change your approach to babies' and children's comprehension skills is just below: