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Trends Neurosci. 2006 Jul;29(7):367-373. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2006.05.011. Epub 2006 Jul 3.

Nature and nurture in language acquisition: anatomical and functional brain-imaging studies in infants.

Author information

1
INSERM U562, Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, CEA/DRM/DSV, 4 Place du Général Leclerc, 91401 Orsay Cedex, France; AP-HP, Service de Neurologie Pédiatrique, CHU Kremlin Bicêtre, 78 Avenue du Général Leclerc, 94270 Le Kremlin Bicêtre, France; IFR49, Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, CEA/DRM/DSV, 4 Place du Général Leclerc, 91401 Orsay Cedex, France. Electronic address: gdehaene@shfj.cea.fr.
2
IFR49, Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, CEA/DRM/DSV, 4 Place du Général Leclerc, 91401 Orsay Cedex, France; AP-HP, Service de Radiologie Pédiatrique, Hopital Necker-Enfants Malades, 149 Rue de Sèvres, 75015 Paris, France; INSERM U663, Service de Neurologie Pédiatrique, Hopital Necker-Enfants Malades, 149 Rue de Sèvres, 75015 Paris, France.
3
Service Hospitalier Frédéric Joliot, CEA/DRM/DSV, 4 Place du Général Leclerc, 91401 Orsay Cedex, France.

Abstract

Speech processing in adults relies on precise and specialized networks, located primarily in the left hemisphere. Behavioral studies in infants indicate that a considerable amount of language learning already takes place in the first year of life in the domains of phonology, prosody and word segmentation. Thanks to neuroimaging, we can move beyond behavioral methods and examine how the infant brain processes verbal stimuli before learning. These studies reveal a structural and functional organization close to what is described in adults and suggest a strong bias for speech processing in these regions that might guide infants as they discover the properties of their native language, although no evidence can be provided as yet for speech specificity of such networks. This review is part of the INMED/TINS special issue "Nature and nurture in brain development and neurological disorders", based on presentations at the annual INMED/TINS symposium (http://inmednet.com/).

PMID:
16815562
DOI:
10.1016/j.tins.2006.05.011
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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