Phase II year
(last award dollars: 1985)
Visual "mobiles" are attached to infants' cribs to provide visual stimulation. No devices currently on the market provide infants with complex and interesting auditory stimulation. Yet, studies show that very young infants have a keen sense of hearing and are capable of discriminating fine differences in complex sounds such as speech. More important, infants like listening to speech, particularly when it conforms to the kind of speech that is addressed to them by caretakers. The particular kind of speech has many special properties, and has been given the name "Motherese.11 Laboratory research indicates that infants prefer to listen to Motherese over the kind of speech addressed to adults.Phase I research examined the feasibility of creating an "Auditory Mobile" for infants, a device that presents Motherese and other complex signals that mimic its salient acoustic characteristics to infants. Substantial progress was made toward establishing the technical feasibility and marketability of such a product. Moreover, a large toy company expressed a firm interest in the commercialization of the "Auditory Mobile" and two other inventions that stimulate the auditory sense-the "Sound Maker" and the "Sensory Jack." Phase 11 will (1) identify the parameters of the auditory signals that should be contained in these products, and (2) work on the technical solutions involving complex signal processing required by these devices.