Back Communicative gestures of babies synchronized with speech are related with better language ability

Communicative gestures of babies synchronized with speech are related with better language ability

According to research by the Prosodic Research Group of the Department of Translation and Language Sciences that has observed infants at 12 and at 18 months, published in Infant Behavior and Development.


From an early age, babies develop strategies for interaction with adults using vocalizations and early communicative gestures. It is known that in human communication, adults adjust the use of  multimodal signals in order to enjoy greater efficiency in communication

For example, we may use both a pointing gesture together with speech to attract the attention of our interlocutor to what we wish to show. That is, in spontaneous speech we continuously associate the use of communicative gestures with speech.

The pointing gesture is a very important indicator of infants' language and communication skills between the ages of 9 and 12 months. Previous studies had focused on the isolated analysis of gesture, without taking into account whether or not they were accompanied by vocalizations.

prosodiaimatges Alfonso Igualada and Pilar Prieto (ICREA-UPF), researcher and group leader, respectively, of the Prosodic Research Group at UPF's Department of Translation and Language Sciences, together with Laura Bosch, researcher at the Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour (IR3C) and of the Department of Basic Psychology of the University of Barcelona, ​​conducted an experiment with children of 12 months of age to test the relevance of using pointing gestures synchronized with early speech. The results of the study are to be published in the journal Infant Behavior & Development.

As the authors of the work comment, "to prove the relevance of this skill we studied subsequent language development, at 18 months, when children have a varied vocabulary and begin to make their first word combinations".

The results of the study show that children at 12 months are able to use multimodal productions as a communication strategy to direct the attention of the adult when the latter does not look at the referent. 

Surely this infant communication strategy is more effective because it helps the adult to perceive the same information through two communication receptors: auditory and visual. 

And indeed, as Igualada and Prieto conclude, "this early ability to attract the attention of adults using two communication modes simultaneously is related with better skills of the development of vocabulary and syntax at 18 months".

Reference work:

Igualada, A., Bosch, L., Prieto, P. (2015), " Language development at 18 months is related to multimodal communicative strategies at 12 months", Infant Behavior and Development, 39, pp. 42-52. 

Other related research e-news:

How and when babies acquire the pattern of coordination between gesture and speech

Babies understand that communicative gesture is integrated with speech



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