AG Bell Board Welcomes New Member – Howard W. Francis, M.D., MBA

University of British Columbia – Inhibiting infants’ tongue movements impedes their ability to distinguish between speech sounds, researchers with the University of British Columbia have found. The study is the first to discover a direct link between infants’ oral-motor movements and auditory speech perception. In the study, published October 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, teething toys were placed in the mouths of six-month-old English-learning babies while they listened to speech sounds–two different Hindi “d” sounds that infants at this age can readily distinguish. When the teethers restricted movements of the tip of the tongue, the infants were unable to distinguish between the two “d” sounds. But when their tongues were free to move, the babies were able to make the distinction. Lead author Alison Bruderer, a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Audiology and Speech Sciences at UBC, said the findings call into question previous assumptions about speech…