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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 1994 Dec;4(6):812-22.

Learning and representation in speech and language.

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Department of Speech and Hearing Science, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


Infants learn language with remarkable speed. By the end of their second year they speak in sentences with an 'accent' typical of a native speaker. How does an individual acquire a specific language? While acknowledging the biological preparation for language, this review focuses on the effects of early language experience on infants' perceptual and perceptual-motor systems. The data show that by the time infants begin to master the higher levels of language--sound-meaning correspondences, contrastive phonology, and grammatical rules--their perceptual and perceptual-motor systems are already tuned to a specific language. The consequences of this are described in a developmental theory at the phonetic level that holds promise for higher levels of language.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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