"From the Mouths of Babes" – I-LABS in Discover's Top Stories from 2014

Editors at Discover Magazine have included I-LABS research in their list of the 100 most important science stories of 2014, which is in the January/February 2015 issue of the magazine.


"How does a babbling baby become a talking tyke?" Discover wrote in their list. "In June, researchers found part of the answer."

photo of baby from Discovery Magazine

They're referring to an I-LABS study showing how both auditory and motor areas in the brain are involved in helping babies perceive speech long before the infants utter their first words. The study was published in June 16, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Hearing us talk exercises the action areas of infants' brains, going beyond what we thought happens when we talk to them," said lead author Patricia Kuhl, co-director of I-LABS, in a university news release about the study. "Infants' brains are preparing them to act on the world by practicing how to speak before they actually say a word."

Read the PNAS study and the UW news release, which also includes video and audio clips from the experiment. The January/February issue of Discover is available in stores and can be ordered online.