Postnatal Language Acquisition: The Development Of Language And Infant Development

896 Words4 Pages
Language acquisition is a significant milestone in early childhood with lexical acquisition beginning as early as six months, and starting before an infant ever speaks their first word (Gervain & Mehler, 2010). Understanding and later speaking their native language will prove to be an important skill. According to Topping, Dekhinet, and Zeedyk (2012), parent-infant interaction in the first three years is critical to the development of this skill. The brain shows evidence that structural and functional organization for language exists from the start (Gervain & Mehler, 2010), and even prior to birth infants are exposed to language in utero (May, Heinlein, Gervain, & Werker, 2011), with hearing onset in the third trimester. This exposure allows them…show more content…
In order for an infant to benefit from postnatal language exposure the brain must have reached a certain level of maturity (Key, Lambert, Aschner, & Maitre, 2012). The brain processes speech sounds in different areas of the brain dependent upon the gestational age of the infant; those born prematurely (24-32 weeks) were shown to process speech sounds in the frontal and temporal sites, whereas the brain of full term infants (39-41 weeks) processed speech sounds at the midline frontal-central sites (Key et al., 2012). Key et al. (2012), used computer-synthesized consonant-vowel syllables and electrodes to observe the brain activity of the infants while the stimuli was played from speakers at 75dB placed approximately 1m from the infant’s ears. Gestational and postnatal age, independent of one another and in conjunction with one another, were found to have a direct effect on sound discrimination in infants; however, vowel discrimination was not affected by gestational or postnatal age in the same fashion as consonant discrimination, due to vowels being louder, and longer in duration they are typically easier to
Open Document