The research group in the LION lab — led by Anne Gallagher, professor of psychology at the University of Montreal and a neuropsychology researcher at Saint-Justin Children’s Hospital — is trying to do just that. Search for an answerWhen and how language acquisition develops.
Do the sounds heard during pregnancy shape the baby’s use of language, sense of language, and attachment to the mother tongue? According to the researchers’ hypothesis, the language heard from the first minute can influence responses to sounds.
Too little experience
To test the hypothesis, and examine the different aspects of children’s language and language development more precisely, the research team examined 72 pregnant women, who were divided into three groups. In the first two, mothers played a story to their babies every day from the 35th week of pregnancy in two languages (French and German or French and Hebrew) through headphones on their stomachs. The third group was the control group, and the participating mothers were not asked to perform any language tasks.
Within 48 hours of birth, the story was shown again to the children in all three languages. The children were fitted with sensors that measured the activity of their brains. But that’s not the end of the experiment: children’s brain activity is regularly recorded until they reach the age of three, so they can monitor language and cognitive development.
The aim is to investigate the development of neurolinguistic networks and the effects of brain plasticity in healthy infants. We eagerly await the results – three years later.
(Cover Image: Robert Alexander/Getty Images)
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