Slide 1

Report
Language
Language Development
• At birth—infants can distinguish all
contrasting sounds in human language
• 6 months—can only distinguish those
sounds in language being spoken around
them
• 4-6 months—begin to babble speech
sounds
2
Language Milestones
3
Theories of Language
Development
•
Behaviorist explanations
– learn to talk through reinforcement, shaping,
and extinction
– limits:
(1) parents don’t spend much time teaching
grammar,
(2) children generate more grammatical sentences
than they hear,
(3) errors children make do not duplicate what they
hear
4
7.1 Theories of Language
Development
•
Nativist explanations
–
–
language acquisition device
(LAD)
“wired” to learn grammar
“Talkin’ babies” – Sci Amer, segment 18
(nature-nurture influences in
language acquisition; babbling)
“Born to talk” – Sci Amer, segment 2
(Grammar acquisition as a function of
brain/environment interaction)
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Theories of Language
Development
• Interactionist explanations
–how does innate, biological capacity for
language combine with environmental
experience?
• parents tailor verbal interactions with children in
ways that simplify language acquisition
• deaf children NOT taught sign language often
develop own system of hand signals
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Genes design the mechanisms for a language, and
experience activates them as it modifies the brain
Environment -spoken language
heard
provides
input to
Genes
Brain -design
Mechanisms for
understanding and
Behavior –
Mastery
of native
producing language
language
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Theories of Language
Development
•
Neurological
specialization
–
–
Broca’s area (involved
in language production)
Wernicke’s area
(involved in language
comprehension)
“Language centers in the
brain” – Psych DVD
Segment 16
(A look at brain surgery that tries to
spare language)

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Animal language
• Can other species learn human language?
• Washoe taught sign language
– learned 160 words; could construct simple sentences
• Primates can learn signs for concepts they understand (not
abstract)
• Current language research (Great Ape Trust) – video
– http://www.greatapetrust.org/
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