Activities and Seminars

Janet Werker. The effects of experience on infant speech perception.
Date: Sep 17, 2013

What: The effects of experience on infant speech perception.

Where: BCBL auditorium

When: 12 noon

Language is one of our most quintessential human capabilities and one reflecting a long history of evolutionary selection. Hence it is not too surprising that there are biases in the human brain from birth for attending to language, for processing language, and for learning its properties. Human infants begin life with a preference for speech, and a foundation for learning any of the world’s languages. Over the first days, weeks, and months of life they rapidly attune to the properties of the native language (or languages, if bilingual), and this perceptual attunement sets the stage for language acquisition. But even capabilities as core as language perception have a contextualized developmental history, and rely on expected input at critical points in development to achieve their optimal outcome. In this talk I describe how opportunity and challenge in the timing and context of expected input impact the development of speech perception, and how that has cascading influences on subsequent language acquisition.