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Fonagy, P. (2012). Does it Matter if There is a Nonverbal Period of Development? On the Infant's Understanding the Social World and its Implications for Psychoanalytic Therapy. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 60(2):287-296.

(2012). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 60(2):287-296

Does it Matter if There is a Nonverbal Period of Development? On the Infant's Understanding the Social World and its Implications for Psychoanalytic Therapy

Peter Fonagy

In her carefully crafted paper, Jeanine Vivona brings together an accumulating body of evidence that points to the infant's sensitivity and attunement to verbal communications.

The Case for a Verbally Competent Preverbal Infant

Vivona introduces us to compelling evidence that even a very young infant's biology prioritizes speech sounds, that they are sensitive to the perceptual patterns associated with different types of words accumulating phonetic, grammatical, and semantic categories over the course of the first twelve months of life, and that, not surprisingly, this occurs in the context of rapidly improving abilities to discriminate between vocalizations within parental and nonparental object relationships. It may be particularly important to psychoanalysts that sensitivity to prosodic features and emotional tone is established very early, probably in the first half of the first year of life (Spence and Moore 2003). In the course of the second half of that year, infants begin to recognize words regardless of the tone in which they are uttered (Singh 2008). Verbal labels emitted by parents clearly modulate the way infants attend to the world outside of them in the first year of life.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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