Academic Year 2013-2014

Elissa Newport

Sensitive Periods and Developmental Plasticity for Language Learners

Many adaptive behaviors, for example, the formation of attachment of young to their mothers and the formation of visual and auditory skills, show heightened sensitivity to the environment in early life. Dr. Newport will suggest that the human ability to learn languages also undergoes the same type of change over age. Children are particularly gifted at language acquisition, but under some circumstances adults can learn the way children do. Our research on the learning of natural and miniature artificial languages is aimed at understanding the mechanisms that make language learning best early in life and change the way learners acquire language over age. The newest direction in our research asks whether the same mechanisms govern neural plasticity and recovery from damage to the brain, making children more able than adults to recover their language abilities; and whether we can reopen these sensitive periods so that adults can recover from neural damage as children do.

Where: MLC (Library) B111
When: February 13, 2014
Time: 4:00-5:30 PM