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Journal Articles Infant and Child Development Year : 2016

The Roots of Turn-Taking in the Neonatal Period


Human newborns are cognitively and socially competent. Although they are sensitive to the presence of a social partner, little is known on the emergence of the ability to partake in social interaction. In this study we aimed to explore the roots of turn-taking in the neonatal period. We wished to highlight the way mothers' and newborns' vocalizations are organized in relation to each other in a face-to-face communication situation. We observed 15 mothers and their 2 to 4-day-old newborns while mothers were instructed to speak to them and infants were in a receptive behavioural state. We examined the temporal organization of maternal and newborn vocalization. Our results show that of all newborn vocalizations analysed, one third consisted of overlapping vocalizations with a maternal vocalization. Furthermore, among the 119 newborn vocalizations that followed a maternal vocalization, 68.9% occurred within the first second, and 26.9% were latched (occurring within the first 50\,ms). Indeed our study suggests that a 1-s window would be the correct window to appreciate social contingency in the neonatal period. Our study provides evidence that a turn-taking ability is already present at birth suggesting that turn taking, which depends on a tight coordination between interacting individuals, is a precocious human ability.

Dates and versions

hal-01480087 , version 1 (01-03-2017)



Sara Dominguez, Emmanuel Devouche, Gisèle Apter, Maya Gratier. The Roots of Turn-Taking in the Neonatal Period. Infant and Child Development, 2016, 25 (3), pp.240-255. ⟨10.1002/icd.1976⟩. ⟨hal-01480087⟩
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