‘Speech needs to be rich and complex’

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CHICAGO: Baby talk is more than just bonding: chatting with your infant spurs important brain development that sets the stage for lifelong learning, researchers said on Thursday (Friday in Manila).

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And while high-pitched, sing-song tones may capture your baby’s attention, the best way for them to learn is to be spoken to like adults. At least when it comes to vocabulary and sentence structure.

“It’s not just how much speech you get, but the kind of speech you get,” said Erika Hoff, a psychologist at Florida Atlantic University.

“Speech needs to be rich and complex.”

Talking to babies is so important that researchers say it is a major reason why children from disadvantaged backgrounds perform poorly in school.

By the time they reach the age of five, the children of low-income, poorly educated parents typically score two years behind their privileged peers on standardized language tests.

These differences can also be measured in the brain, said Columbia University neurologist and pediatrician Kimberly Noble.

The human brain experiences incredible growth in its early years.

By the age of three, it has formed 1,000 trillion neural connections—the links between cells that help the brain do everything from picking up a stick to remembering song lyrics.

AFP

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