Signature tunes in mothers' speech to infants

Tonya R. Bergeson, Sandra E. Trehub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present investigation was to determine whether mothers use discernible tunes (i.e., specific interval sequences) in their speech to infants and whether such tunes are individually distinctive. Mothers were recorded speaking with their infants on two occasions separated by 1 week or more. Examination of the tunes of each mother revealed discernible tunes and frequent repetitions of tunes within and across sessions. Comparisons of utterances with the most common pitch contour (i.e., rising), both within and across mothers, revealed interval patterns that were individually distinctive, or unique. The findings confirm the prominence of tunes and the presence of signature tunes in maternal speech to infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)648-654
Number of pages7
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Infant-directed speech
  • Melody
  • Prosody
  • Repetition
  • Vocal signature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Signature tunes in mothers' speech to infants'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this