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Dev Neuropsychol. 2009;34(1):52-65. doi: 10.1080/87565640802564481.

Identifying cortical lateralization of speech processing in infants using near-infrared spectroscopy.

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Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 77843, USA.


We investigate the utility of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) as an alternative technique for studying infant speech processing. NIRS is an optical imaging technology that uses relative changes in total hemoglobin concentration and oxygenation as an indicator of neural activation. Procedurally, NIRS has the advantage over more common methods (e.g., fMRI) in that it can be used to study the neural responses of behaviorally active infants. Older infants (aged 6-9 months) were allowed to sit on their caretakers' laps during stimulus presentation to determine relative differences in focal activity in the temporal region of the brain during speech processing. Results revealed a dissociation of sensory-specific processing in two cortical regions, the left and right temporal lobes. These findings are consistent with those obtained using other neurophysiological methods and point to the utility of NIRS as a means of establishing neural correlates of language development in older (and more active) infants.

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