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Science. 2002 Dec 6;298(5600):2013-5.

Functional neuroimaging of speech perception in infants.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, CNRS & Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 54 Boulevard Raspail, 75270 Paris Cedex 06, France.


Human infants begin to acquire their native language in the first months of life. To determine which brain regions support language processing at this young age, we measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging the brain activity evoked by normal and reversed speech in awake and sleeping 3-month-old infants. Left-lateralized brain regions similar to those of adults, including the superior temporal and angular gyri, were already active in infants. Additional activation in right prefrontal cortex was seen only in awake infants processing normal speech. Thus, precursors of adult cortical language areas are already active in infants, well before the onset of speech production.

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