Child language acquisition – language and the brain

My background in cognitive neuroscience comprises collaboration within several international research projects lead e.g. by Patricia Kuhl (UW Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences), Lori Holt (CMU/Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition), as well as Luciano Fadiga & Laila Craighero (UNIFE) and Giacomo Rizzolatti (UNIPR). The focus of my research in these projects has been child language acquisition. The methodological span extends from eye-tracking, and brainimaging with electroencephalography (EEG) to humanoid-robotics.

Despite of 150 years of research, the anatomy of language in the human brain is still under vital investigation. Our studies point at a very distributed (scattered) brain activity in children learning the (or several) ambient language(s). An example of this is how language learning in children seems – thanks to the plasticity of the brain - like an easy game for children, while learning in adults is noteably constrained in several linguistic aspects (phonology, sematics, and syntax). According to this view the human percpetion capasity is build upon general, not for humans or for language specific, mechanisms. Reserach of this kind has implications for critical periods in learning, developmental and pathological language deficits, as well as for implementation of human knowledge in AI-/computer models.