ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2017, Vol. 25 ›› Issue (1): 67-75.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2017.00067

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Emotional and social cognitive auditory processing during infancy

ZHOU Yu; ZHANG Dandan   

  1. School of Psychology and Sociology, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen 518060, China
  • Received:2016-06-30 Online:2017-01-15 Published:2017-01-15
  • Contact: ZHANG Dandan, E-mail:


Auditory processing is of great significance for individuals to interact with external environment, especially during the development of emotional and social cognition. As we know, individuals are able to hear before birth and neonates can discriminate changes in pitch and latency of sounds in the first days of their life. In this review, we discussed issues on the development of auditory processing of emotional sounds and social voices, as well as the influence of early social experience on this development. First, we introduced three components (perception, discrimination and recognition) involved in the development of emotional cognition. Related studies have shown that infants prefer positive auditory materials in the first half of the year and then they display negativity bias as adults after half-year old. Also, infants show stronger reaction to human voices and native languages compared to non-voice sounds and foreign languages, which might help them to prepare for language learning. Besides, mothers’ voices and the infant-directed speech are more attractive for infants, compared with strangers’ voices and the adult-directed speech. Second, we pointed out that three aspects of social cognition (facial recognition, bidirectional action-effect association, and abnormal development caused by auditory dysfunction) may be significantly influenced by the auditory processing in infants. Third, the theory of emotional and social development was discussed according to experience-expectant and experience-dependent mechanisms. Finally, we suggested that longitudinal designs and multi-modeling imaging studies are urgently needed to clarify the unsolved problems.

Key words: infants, auditory, emotional, social