Of birds and babies: Social cues are key to vocal learning

ITHACA, N.Y. –  When a baby bird learns a song, is it simply mimicking and practicing its father’s tune? Or do chicks learn by first putting out nonsensical sounds – akin to a human infant’s babble – which they then build upon based on their parent’s response? A Cornell University study suggests that social feedback […]

Babies chew on subtle social, cultural cues at mealtime

ITHACA, N.Y. – At the dinner table, babies do a lot more than play with their sippy cups, new research suggests. Babies pay close attention to what food is being eaten around them – and especially who is eating it – according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. […]

‘Now-or-never bottleneck’ explains language acquisition

ITHACA, N.Y. – We are constantly bombarded with linguistic input, but our brains are unable to remember long strings of linguistic information. How does the brain make sense of this ongoing deluge of sound? In a new paper in Behavioral and Brain Sciences, “The Now-or-Never Bottleneck: A Fundamental Constraint on Language,” Cornell psychology professor Morten Christiansen and […]