Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-558cb97cc8-m5bhc Total loading time: 0.491 Render date: 2022-10-07T04:03:55.247Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": true, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Babble and first words in children with focal brain injury

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Virginia A. Marchman*
University of California, San Diego
Ruth Miller
Stanford University
Elizabeth A. Bates
University of California, San Diego
Virginia A. Marchman, Department of Psychology 0109, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109


In this article, we present data from a longitudinal investigation of the development of language and communicative skills in infants suffering from focal brain injury in the pre- or perinatal period. We focus on phonological analyses of babbling and first words, and parental reports of the use of gestures for communicative purposes, word comprehension, and word production. Results indicate that all children were delayed in the number of gestures they were reported to produce, as well as in reported lexical production. Reported comprehension was also typically well below age level; however, age-appropriate comprehension was observed in one child throughout the period sampled. Phonological analyses revealed both similarities and differences between the early vocalizations of the neurologically involved children and those of the control group. Most notably, the vocalizations of the children with brain injury contained a smaller proportion of “true” consonants at the earliest session. The children who showed an increase in the proportion of consonant production by the third testing session were those who had also begun to produce words by this period. Thus, phonological and lexical developments were both observed during the period studied here, with improvement most evident in children with damage to anterior (as opposed to posterior) brain areas. Lastly, like normally developing children, children with brain injury displayed idiosyncratic patterns of consonant articulation. These tendencies were observed in all vocalizations, both babble and words, suggesting that continuity of consonant place and manner is evident even in the face of general delay in the acquisition of communicative abilities.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1991

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Aram, D. (1988). Language sequelae of unilateral brain lesions in children. In Plum, F. (Ed.), Language, communication, and the brain (ARNMD Series). New York: Raven Press.Google Scholar
Aram, D., Ekelman, B., Rose, D., & Whitaker, H. (1985). Verbal and cognitive sequelae following unilateral lesions acquired in early childhood. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, 7, 5578.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Aram, D., Ekelman, B., & Whitaker, H. (1987). Lexical retrieval in left and right brain lesioned children. Brain & Language, 28, 6187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bates, E., Bretherton, I., & Snyder, L. (1988). From first words to grammar: Individual differences and dissociable mechanisms. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
Bates, E., Thal, D., Whitesell, K., Fenson, L., & Oakes, L. (1989). Integrating language and gesture in infancy. Developmental Psychology, 25, 10041019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bayley, N. (1969). Bayley Scales of Infant Development. New York: The Psychological Corporation.Google Scholar
Bush, C. N., Edwards, M. L., Luckau, J., Stoel, C., Macken, M. A., & Peterson, J. (1973). On specifying a system for transcribing consonants in child language: A working paper with examples from American English and Mexican Spanish. Stanford, CA: Stanford University, Department of Linguistics.Google Scholar
Dale, P., Bates, E., Reznick, S., & Morisset, C. (1989). The validity of a parental report instrument of language at 20 months. Journal of Child Language, 16, 239250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fenson, L., Flynn, D., Vella, D., Omens, J., Burgess, J., & Hartung, J. (1989). Tools for the assessment of language in infants and toddlers by parental report. Poster presented to the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Kansas City, MO, April 1989.Google Scholar
Fenson, L., Vella, D., Flynn, D., & Thal, D. (1988). Developmental norms for 4 parental inventory reports of language and communication between 9 and 28 months. Unpublished manuscript, San Diego State University and University of California, San Diego.Google Scholar
Kinsbourne, M., & Hiscock, M. (1977). Does cerebral dominance develop? In Segalowitz, S. & Gruber, F. (Eds.), Language development and neurological theory. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
Oller, D. K. (1980). The emergence of the sounds of speech in infancy. In Yeni-Komshian, G. H.Kavanagh, J. F., & Ferguson, C. A. (Eds.), Child phonology: Vol. 1: Production. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
Reznick, S., & Goldsmith, S. (1989). Assessing early language: A multiple form word production checklist. Journal of Child Language, 16, 91100.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Thal, D., & Bates, E. (1988). Language and gesture in late talkers. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 31, 115123.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Thal, D., Tobias, S., & Morrison, D. (in press). Language and gestures in late talkers: A one year follow-up. Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders.Google Scholar
Vargha-Khadem, F., O’Gorman, A., & Watters, G. (1985). Aphasia and handedness in relation to hemispheric side, age at injury and severity of cerebral lesion during childhood. Brain, 108, 677696.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Vihman, M. M., Ferguson, C. A., & Elbert, M. (1986). Phonological development from babbling to speech: Common tendencies and individual differences. Applied Psycholinguistics, 7, 340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vihman, M. M., & Greenlee, M. (1987). Individual differences in phonological development: Ages one and three years. Journal of Speech and Hearing Research, 30, 503521.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Vihman, M. M., Macken, M. A., Miller, R., Simmons, H., & Miller, J. (1985). From babbling to speech: A reassessment of the continuity issue. Language, 61, 397445.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vihman, M. M., & Miller, R. (1988). Words and babble at the threshold of language acquisition. In Smith, M. D. & Locke, J. L. (Eds.), The emergent lexicon: The child’s development of a linguistic vocabulary. San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
Woods, B., & Carey, S. (1979). Language deficits after apparent clinical recovery from aphasia. Annals of Neurology, 6, 405409.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Babble and first words in children with focal brain injury
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Babble and first words in children with focal brain injury
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Babble and first words in children with focal brain injury
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *