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We conducted a naturalistic study in which German mothers interacted with their three-month-old infants during diaper changing as an everyday activity. Following the idea that “acoustic packaging” educates infants' attention, we explored whether the verbal input to the infants in natural interactions simultaneously contains action information. Applying a microanalysis method, we first analyzed the data qualitatively by identifying classes of body movement and vocal activities (that we called vocal types). We used these categories to observe the multimodal interaction practices of mothers and to describe the interaction ecology of everyday activity. Second, we analyzed the co-occurrence of language (in the form of different vocal activities) and action (in the form of body movements) quantitatively. We found that during early interaction with infants, German mothers vocalize in a tight temporal relationship with action over a considerable part of the overall interaction time, thereby making the vocal signal both perceivable and tangible to the infants.
Autonomous Mental Development, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:3 , Issue: 2 )
Date of Publication: June 2011