https://theemotionallearner.com/2021/11 ... nk-slates/
Blank Slate (Tabula Rasa) views of human development erroneously claim that we are born devoid of innate mental content.
From birth, humans already have in place the systems required for rapid learning.
These systems include those related to object recognition, language, numbers and intentions of others.
They are then fine-tuned as the infant interacts with the world.
Nowhere can we see this rapid acquisition of skills more than in language learning. Infants learn their native language incredibly quickly, a feat that would be impossible if each and every word needed to be reinforced, as some behaviourists hypothesised. This is not to say infants are born with a full lexicon or a deep understanding of how to construct sentences conforming to grammatical rules, just that humans are unique in their ability to acquire language (attempts have been made to teach other primates language, including sign language, with little success).
From birth, babies prefer to listen to their native language compared to a foreign one and there is some evidence that this preference begins in pregnancy. Even babies born two-and-a-half months early respond to spoken language, suggesting this ability begins very early indeed (see, for example, Mahmoudzadeh et al. 2013).
Babies appear to learn to speak effortlessly and naturally, provided they are raised in an environment where language is spoken. At only a few days old, when babies hear the sound ‘a’ they open their mouths in a way that corresponds with the sound. If they hear the sound ‘e’ they will move their mouths in a different way. Even before they have knowledge of their own mouths, babies are trying to create the sounds they hear. In one interesting study, Stanislas Dehaene and Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz scanned the brains of babies while they slept and listed to speech. They discovered that the same brain regions were active in 3 month-old babies as in adult brains when they heard speech in their native language, suggesting that brain organisation doesn’t have to wait for experience to be accumulated in order to process language – the ability already exists.
For us to learn our own language, we need to be able to categorise the sounds that make it up (called phonemes). Newborn babies are able to distinguish between all speech sounds and are actually more sensitive to these sounds than adults. For the first twelve months or so, this sound discrimination is determined by the sounds the infant experiences in the environment, but beyond about twelve months they lose the ability to distinguish between sounds they are not exposed to.