Beyond the obvious – Mommy and Daddy are around a lot and babies are drawn naturally to their parental units and often hear the words (“Who’s your dada?”) – languages in many cultures have apparently made the task easy by creating words forthat feature patterns of repeating sounds according to some scientists.
Brain scans were made of 22 newborns while they listened to recordings of made-up words. They heard words that end in repeating syllables, such as “balala” and “pakeke,” as well as words without them, such as “fluban” and “sherkol,” for example.
Brain activity increased in the babies’ temporal and left frontal areas whenever the repetitious words were played. This suggests “mama” and “dada are well-chosen first words to try to teach a baby. This study also shows that the ability to more easily recognize these sorts of repetitive sounds is hard-wired in the human brain.
“It’s probably no coincidence that many languages around the world have repetitious syllables in their ‘child words,'” project leader Judit Gervain said. For example Polish uses Tata and Mama, while Italian has Papa and Mama.
So, the brain areas that are responsible for language in adults do not ‘learn’ how to process language during development. They are specialized to process (not necessarily learn or comprehend language from the earliest beginnings of life.