Washington, October 8
According to research, postnatal depressive mood can have an impact on children’s development and speech. However, it was previously unknown how this impairment manifests itself in infants’ early language development.
In a study, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have now investigated how well babies can distinguish speech sounds from one another depending on their mother’s mood.
This ability is considered an important prerequisite for further steps towards a well-developed language. If sounds can be distinguished from one another, individual words can also be distinguished from one another. It became clear that if mothers indicate a more negative mood two months after birth, their children show on average less mature processing of speech sounds at the age of six months.
The infants found it particularly difficult to distinguish between syllable pitches. Specifically, they showed that the development of their so-called Mismatch Response was delayed than in those whose mothers were in a more positive mood. This Mismatch Response in turn serves as a measure of how well someone can separate sounds from one another.