Saturday, 2 March 2013

Babies Are Programmed To Understand Language, New Research Shows

The human brain is exceedingly complex. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

It is becoming exceedingly difficult to explain language learning from a strictly naturalistic perspective.

Already in the 1950s, Noam Chomsky suggested that human babies have an inborn “language acquisition device” that enables them to learn spoken language. New research shows that babies have this capacity even before they are born.

A recent Nature News item discussed a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

Despite having brains that are still largely under construction, babies born up to three months before full term can already distinguish between spoken syllables in much the same way that adults do, an imaging study has shown.”

Now, one could ask, why is this so? It seems that human babies are programmed to understand language. This suggests design – the very intelligent variety.

Like consciousness, language is something that is immaterial, so it does not fit in well with the evolutionary model.


Nuzzo, Regina. 2013. Babies' brains may be tuned to language before birth: Brain imaging shows that premature babies process speech in similar ways to adults. Nature News (25 February).