Language News: Language Processing in Infants

Advance is a professional magazine for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.  Last week  they featured a write-up of a new, interdisciplinary study by  Eric Halgren, Jeff Elman, and Katherine E. Travis.  Their NIH-sponsored research, published in Cebral Cortex (January 5, 2011), suggests that infants as young as 1 year are processing language in much the same way as adults.

This research is important, since language acquisition research has often speculated that the childhood acquisition process might use different parts of the brain than adults.  Using mutlimodal imaging techniques (MEGs, MRIs, etc.), As Halgren explains, their research demonstrates that “the neural machinery used by adults to understand words is already functional when words are first being learned.”

Language Processing in Infants on ADVANCE for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists.


About LingEducator

Dr. Jaclyn Ocumpaugh received a PhD for her dissertation on regional variation in the acoustics of Mexican American English (Michigan State University, East Lansing). Before that, she received an MA in English/Linguistics from North Carolina State University for her work on the acoustics of /r/--a sound which is highly variable in the English language. Her passion, however, has always been to understand the social implications of language variation. In addition to her work in acoustic sociophonetics, she has worked with rape trial analysis, developed cognitive methods for understanding discourse level variation between men and women, and created sophisticated tools for teaching future educators about the kinds of dialect variation they will find in the classroom. She has taught classes in English, Linguistics, and Education at Old Dominion University, William & Mary, the University of Mary Washington, and Virginia Wesleyan College. She is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow of Learning Sciences and Technologies at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, where she is helping to develop models of student engagement in the classroom. She also consults in the private sector.
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