The importance of visual speech information in the recognition of one's native language

Infants are inundated with visual and auditory information that is critical to their development of communication. One important communication skill that infants learn is the ability to discriminate between their native language and an unfamiliar language. Whitney Weikum is studying whether infants can develop the ability to discern people speaking in the infants’ native language, versus other languages, based solely on visual information. The research involves conducting imaging studies that will determine the neural processes responsible for analyzing visual information. Results from the study could help create definitive tests for patterns of normal communication development. Such tests could lead to early identification and treatment of infants with disorders such as Autism.