It matters what your baby hears. Even during sleep, the sounds that infants are exposed to can play a big role in language development, especially for babies at risk of language delays, according to a Rutgers University-Newark neuroscientist. Although it’s well-known that music and speech boost babies’ ability to learn, there’s robust evidence that certain brief auditory cues in an infant’s environments are analyzed by the developing brain and used to guide the formation of networks involved in language processing.

Researcher April Benasich, an expert in early brain plasticity who studies infant language and cognitive development, demonstrated that infants who were passively exposed to a series of brief non-speech sounds once a week for six weeks were able to more accurately identify and discriminate syllables and had better language scores at 12 and 18 months compared to infants who had not received that exposure.  Her findings were published in the journal Cerebral Cortex. To read the full story.