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Re: Innate responses to sound

Bruno's description below strikes me as being about "what is important to

It occurs to me that some of Saffran et al (and many others) work on baby's
use of statistical reasoning for language development might play a role in
the question "how is the important stuff learned?"

Both of these questions could be related to "innate" responses to sound
however the introduction of the language centers of the brain into your
argument and/or inquiry may cause more trouble that it solves.

Best of luck!


Here's a representative article:

Science 13 December 1996:
Vol. 274. no. 5294, pp. 1926 - 1928
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5294.1926

Statistical Learning by 8-Month-Old Infants
Jenny R. Saffran, Richard N. Aslin, Elissa L. Newport

Learners rely on a combination of experience-independent and
experience-dependent mechanisms to extract information from the environment.
Language acquisition involves both types of mechanisms, but most theorists
emphasize the relative importance of experience-independent mechanisms. The
present study shows that a fundamental task of language acquisition,
segmentation of words from fluent speech, can be accomplished by 8-month-old
infants based solely on the statistical relationships between neighboring
speech sounds. Moreover, this word segmentation was based on statistical
learning from only 2 minutes of exposure, suggesting that infants have
access to a powerful mechanism for the computation of statistical properties
of the language input.

On 5/23/08 9:56 AM, "Bruno L. Giordano" <bruno.giordano@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

> My two cents:
> at least for the visual system, it is argued (Kellman, 1996) that
> development starts with:
> - a focus on those sensory features that most reliably discriminate
> between properties of the environment (accuracy of perception, i.e., a
> Hit, is more important than a failure to detect, i.e., a Miss)
> and, with development, switches to
> - a generalized focus on all the available sensory information,
> independent of its accuracy in signaling environment properties (a Miss
> is worst than a False Alarm).
> I wonder whether the same can be said for auditory cognition/perception:
> it would pose the problem of explaining how the newborn perceptual
> system either already has a knowledge of information accuracy, or learns
> about in a very short period.
>      Bruno
> @INCOLLECTION{kellman96,
>    author = {P. J. Kellman},
>    title = {The origins of object perception},
>    booktitle = {Handbook of perception and cognition, Volume 8:
> Perceptual and cognitive development},
>    publisher = {Academic Press},
>    year = {1996},
>    editor = {R. Gelman and T. {Kit--Fong Au}},
>    pages = {3--48},
>    address = {San Diego, CA}
> }
> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
> Bruno L. Giordano, Ph.D.
> Music Perception and Cognition Laboratory
> CIRMMT http://www.cirmmt.mcgill.ca/
> Schulich School of Music, McGill University
> 555 Sherbrooke Street West
> MontrÃal, QC H3A 1E3
> Canada
> Office: +1 514 398 4535 ext. 00900
> http://www.music.mcgill.ca/~bruno
> Martin Braun wrote:
>> Dear Ross and others,
>>> I am looking for papers (or books) on responses to sound that are likely
>>> to be innate in humans.
>> I assume that most of us would agree with the description that in humans
>> the ability of "conscious", i.e. post-cognitive, control of breathing is
>> innate.
>> An analogue status of innateness has been observed for the human
>> auditory abilities of absolute pitch (AP) and relative pitch (RP).
>> Unfortunately, the innateness of both AP and RP has often been missed in
>> the literature, because the focus has usually been on cognitive versions
>> of AP and RP. These cognitive versions can only develop after some kind
>> of contact with musical culture.
>> We should bear in mind, though, that almost all children easily learn to
>> generalize their mothers' speech intonation intervals, even when they
>> are largely down-transposed by male adults or largely high-transposed by
>> other children.
>> Martin
>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Martin Braun
>> Neuroscience of Music
>> S-671 95 KlÃssbol
>> Sweden
>> web site: http://w1.570.telia.com/~u57011259/index.htm
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S. Camille Peres, Ph.D., peressc@xxxxxxxx
Assistant Professor, Psychology Department
University of Houston-Clear Lake, Box 307
2700 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX 77058
o. 281.283.3412
f. 281.283.3406