At 7-Months, Babies Recognize Emotion in Voices

A young kid dressed as Lord Krishna for Janmashtami celebrations in Hyderabad. Photo: Nagara Gopal RedTracker| Brains of babies as young as 7 months can discern emotion in voices. Using near-infrared spectroscopy, researchers found that 7-month-olds — but not 4-month-olds — showed adult-like increased responses to human-specific voices.

The researchers also observed that a voice-sensitive region in the right temporal cortex showed increased activity when 7-month-old infants listened to words spoken with emotional (angry or happy) prosody. Brain patterns suggest most definitely a response and perhaps an attempt to ‘understand’ or ‘make meaning’ of emotional tone or prosody in human voices once babies reach 7 months.

Dr. Tobias Grossmann from the Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at the University of London led the study which was performed in Dr. Angela D. Friederici’s laboratory at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Germany.