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Perceptual narrowing in the context of increased variation: Insights from bilingual infants

Title:

Perceptual narrowing in the context of increased variation: Insights from bilingual infants

Byers-Heinlein, Krista and Fennell, Christopher (2014) Perceptual narrowing in the context of increased variation: Insights from bilingual infants. Developmental Psychobiology, 65 (2). pp. 274-291. ISSN 0012-1630

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Abstract

Human infants become native-language listeners through a process of perceptual narrowing. Monolingual infants are initially sensitive to a wide range of language- relevant contrasts. However, as they mature and gain native-language experience, their sensitivity to non-native contrasts declines. Here, we consider the case of infants growing up bilingual as a window into how increased variation affects early perceptual development. These infants encounter different meaningful contrasts in each of their languages, and must also attend to contrasts that occur between their languages. Bilingual infants share many classic developmental patterns with monolinguals. However, they also show unique developmental patterns in the perception of native distinctions such as U- shaped trajectories and dose-response relationships, and show some enhanced sensitivity to non-native distinctions. Analogous developmental patterns can be observed in individuals exposed to two non-linguistic systems in domains such as music and face perception. Some preliminary evidence suggests that bilingual individuals might retain more sensitivity to non-native contrasts, reaching a less narrow end state than monolinguals. Nevertheless, bilingual infants do become perceptually-specialized native listeners to both of their languages, despite increased variation and differing patterns of perceptual development in comparison to monolinguals.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Authors:Byers-Heinlein, Krista and Fennell, Christopher
Journal or Publication:Developmental Psychobiology
Date:2014
ID Code:980276
Deposited By: KRISTA BYERS HEINLEIN
Deposited On:17 Aug 2015 15:19
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:51
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