Cognizione sociale e linguaggio: il ruolo del processamento dei volti nello sviluppo della capacità linguistica / Social cognition and language: exploring the role of face processing mechanisms in relation to language acquisition processes

  • Giuliana Pulvirenti
Keywords: language acquisition, infancy, language ontogeny, face processing, audio-visual integration, perceptual narrowing


The present work defends the importance of developmental studies to shed light on the evolutionary roots of human language uniqueness and claims that language learning processes are multimodal in nature and socially gated. Recent studies have highlighted the role played by statistically based pattern recognition and extraction mechanisms, as well as that one of neuro-cognitive processes that link perceptual and motor abilities to the usage of social cues. Species-specific aspects of language may derive from both the anatomo-morphological development of sapiens’ vocal tract and the interaction of domain-general sensory-motor and cognitive abilities. An analysis of the different strategies employed by infants to process faces during early linguistic learning stages appears to be particularly informative. Indeed, it is experimentally proved that children preferentially look at different regions of the face in different times of their early development. These changes may be functionally correlated to language learning, favouring imitative processes, presumably involved in the development of oro-articulatory abilities, gaze triangulation and sense convergence. Therefore, a focus on the ontogenetic mechanisms involved in language acquisition could act as a magnifying lens on functions until now treated in a generic fashion and inform developmental and evolutionary theories of language.


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How to Cite
Pulvirenti, G. (1) “Cognizione sociale e linguaggio: il ruolo del processamento dei volti nello sviluppo della capacità linguistica / Social cognition and language: exploring the role of face processing mechanisms in relation to language acquisition processes”, Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio, 00. Available at: (Accessed: 23October2021).