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Neuroreport. 1998 Jun 1;9(8):1885-8.

A phonological representation in the infant brain.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (CNRS URA 1198), Paris, France.


In adults, neural networks for phonological processing distinct from those involved in acoustical processing are located in the left temporal lobe. We now report that by the age of 3 months, infants display phonological processing devices analogous to those found in adults. Within a stream of identical syllables, acoustic deviants were introduced, either crossing a phonetic boundary or remaining within the same category. Event-related potentials were recorded using a 64-electrode net. Although the acoustical change was of similar amplitude in the two deviants, the electrophysiological response was larger for a phonological change and involved a more posterior and dorsal temporal region than for an acoustical change. These results demonstrate that infants, like adults, already possess a dedicated neuronal network for phonetic processing.

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