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.”