Acquiring a quantity language

Acquiring a quantity language: infants’ input and perceptual processing of vowel length

Provider: Charles University
Number: PRIMUS/17/HUM/19 FF

Duration: 2018-2020

Principal Investigator: Kateřina Chládková
Other participants from the Faculty of Arts: M. Černá, N. Paillereau, Z. Oceláková


The project focuses on speech and language development in its earliest stages. We examine the properties of the speech signal that the child encounters during pre- and early post-natal development. Our aim is to show whether and in what ways prenatal experience with the ambient speech modulates perceptual processing of speech sounds in the neonate. The focus is on the acquisition of native-language vowel length and vowel quality contrasts, whose developmental changes are traced throughout the first year of the child’s development.

To assess infants’ perceptual processing of speech sounds, we use electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potentials (experiments with newborns in collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Králové), and behavioral methods (namely looking behavior, with 3-to-9-month olds). A theoretical and computational model (an artificial neural network) will be build to simulate the properties of input and its influences on the development of speech sound categorization.

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