Functional Neuroimaging of Speech Perception in Infants

Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique, CNRS & Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, 54 Boulevard Raspail, 75270 Paris Cedex 06, France.
Science (Impact Factor: 33.61). 01/2003; 298(5600):2013-5. DOI: 10.1126/science.1077066
Source: PubMed


Human infants begin to acquire their native language in the first months of life. To determine which brain regions support language processing at this young age, we measured with functional magnetic resonance imaging the brain activity evoked by normal and reversed speech in awake and sleeping 3-month-old infants. Left-lateralized brain regions similar to those of adults, including the superior temporal and angular gyri, were already active in infants. Additional activation in right prefrontal cortex was seen only in awake infants processing normal speech. Thus, precursors of adult cortical language areas are already active in infants, well before the onset of speech production.

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Available from: Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz,
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    • "The results of neuroimaging studies are congruent with the above observation, as they have shown that very early in life human language is predominantly processed by the left hemisphere. Thus, Dehaene-Lambertz et al. [11] used fMRI to demonstrate that breastfed babies activate restricted perisylvian brain areas in the left hemisphere when listening to their mothers' language. These brain areas are similar to those involved in language in adult brains (e.g., Wernicke's area in the left hemisphere). "
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    ABSTRACT: Language development has been correlated with specific changes in brain development. The aim of this paper is to analyze the linguistic-brain associations that occur from birth through senescence. Findings from the neuropsychological and neuroimaging literature are reviewed, and the relationship of language changes observable in human development and the corresponding brain maturation processes across age groups are examined. Two major dimensions of language development are highlighted: naming (considered a major measure of lexical knowledge) and verbal fluency (regarded as a major measure of language production ability). Developmental changes in the brain lateralization of language are discussed, emphasizing that in early life there is an increase in functional brain asymmetry for language, but that this asymmetry changes over time, and that changes in the volume of gray and white matter are age-sensitive. The effects of certain specific variables, such as gender, level of education, and bilingualism are also analyzed. General conclusions are presented and directions for future research are suggested.
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    • "How this age-varying structural relationship corresponds to cortical and subcortical functional representation of language remains unclear. The development of language representation in babies and toddlers has been probed using functional MRI in both awake [Dehaene-Lambertz et al., 2002] and asleep [Blasi et al., 2011] infants. A leftward asymmetry in response to language is evident as early as 2 months [Dehaene-Lambertz et al., 2010]. "
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    Human Brain Mapping 09/2014; 35(9). DOI:10.1002/hbm.22488 · 5.97 Impact Factor
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    • "Reading demands the translation of abstract graphemes (letters) into their corresponding spoken language sounds (phonemes) that format meaningful words (semantics). It therefore engages visual (cuneus and fusiform gyrus) (McCandliss et al., 2003), auditory/phonological (angular gyrus, STG) (Dehaene-Lambertz et al., 2002), and semantic brain regions (IFG) (Newman and Joanisse, 2011) mainly in the left hemisphere (Chiarello et al., 2009). An efficient synchronization of these processes is needed for fluent reading, which demands the engagement of the executive system (Breznitz, 2006). "
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