ERIC Number: EJ941754
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Mar
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
Impact of Second-Language Experience in Infancy: Brain Measures of First- and Second-Language Speech Perception
Conboy, Barbara T.; Kuhl, Patricia K.
Developmental Science, v14 n2 p242-248 Mar 2011
Language experience "narrows" speech perception by the end of infants' first year, reducing discrimination of non-native phoneme contrasts while improving native-contrast discrimination. Previous research showed that declines in non-native discrimination were reversed by second-language experience provided at 9-10 months, but it is not known whether second-language experience affects first-language speech sound processing. Using event-related potentials (ERPs), we examined learning-related changes in brain activity to Spanish and English phoneme contrasts in monolingual English-learning infants pre- and post-exposure to Spanish from 9.5 to 10.5 months of age. Infants showed a significant discriminatory ERP response to the Spanish contrast at 11 months (post-exposure), but not at 9 months (pre-exposure). The English contrast elicited an earlier discriminatory response at 11 months than at 9 months, suggesting improvement in native-language processing. The results show that infants rapidly encode new phonetic information, and that improvement in native speech processing can occur during second-language learning in infancy.
Descriptors: Phonemes, Infants, Auditory Perception, Monolingualism, Brain Hemisphere Functions, Language Processing, Second Language Learning, Auditory Discrimination, Diagnostic Tests, English, Spanish
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
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