Patricia K. Kuhl's research while affiliated with Trinity Washington University and other places

Publications (123)

Article
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Longitudinal studies provide the unique opportunity to test whether early language provides a scaffolding for the acquisition of the ability to read. This study tests the hypothesis that parental language input during the first 2 years of life predicts emergent literacy skills at 5 years of age, and that white matter development observed early in t...
Article
Full-text available
Between 6 and 12 months of age there are dramatic changes in infants’ processing of language. The neurostructural underpinnings of these changes are virtually unknown. The objectives of this study were to (1) examine changes in brain myelination during this developmental period and (2) examine the relationship between myelination during this period...
Article
Full-text available
Verbal interaction and imitation are essential for language learning and development in young children. However, it is unclear how mother–child dyads synchronize oscillatory neural activity at the cortical level in turn-based speech interactions. Our study investigated interbrain synchrony in mother–child pairs during a turn-taking paradigm of verb...
Article
Full-text available
The development of skills related to executive function (EF) in infancy, including their emergence, underlying neural mechanisms and interconnections to other cognitive skills, is an area of increasing research interest. Here, we report on findings from a multidimensional dataset demonstrating that infants’ behavioral performance on a flexible lear...
Article
Full-text available
The sensitive period for phonetic learning (6∼12 months), evidenced by improved native speech processing and declined non-native speech processing, represents an early milestone in language acquisition. We examined the extent that sensory encoding of speech is altered by experience during this period by testing two hypotheses: (1) early sensory enc...
Article
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The frequency-following response (FFR) is a scalp-recorded signal that reflects phase-locked activity from neurons across the auditory system. In addition to capturing information about sounds, the FFR conveys biometric information, reflecting individual differences in auditory processing. To investigate the development of FFR biometric patterns, w...
Article
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Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that impairs the control of attention and behavioral inhibition in affected individuals. Recent genome-wide association findings have revealed an association between glutamate and GABA gene sets and ADHD symptoms. Consistently, people with ADHD show altered glutamate a...
Article
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The excellent temporal resolution and advanced spatial resolution of magnetoencephalography (MEG) makes it an excellent tool to study the neural dynamics underlying cognitive processes in the developing brain. Nonetheless, a number of challenges exist when using MEG to image infant populations. There is a persistent belief that collecting MEG data...
Article
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The ‘sensitive period’ for phonetic learning (∼6-12 months) is one of the earliest milestones in language acquisition where infants start to become specialized in processing speech sounds in their native language. In the last decade, advancements in neuroimaging technologies for infants are starting to shed light on the underlying neural mechanisms...
Article
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Literacy is an essential skill. Learning to read is a requirement for becoming a self-providing human being. However, while spoken language is acquired naturally with exposure to language without explicit instruction, reading and writing need to be taught explicitly. Decades of research have shown that well-structured teaching of phonological aware...
Article
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Research on children and adults with developmental dyslexia—a specific difficulty in learning to read and spell—suggests that phonological deficits in dyslexia are linked to basic auditory deficits in temporal sampling. However, it remains undetermined whether such deficits are already present in infancy, especially during the sensitive period when...
Article
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The first 1000 days represent a unique window of opportunity for second language learning. In two recent studies we demonstrated that Spanish infants’ use of second-language (L2) English productive vocabulary and early utterances rapidly increased through the play-based, interactive and highly social SparkLingTM Intervention, which consists of an e...
Article
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With increased public access to the Internet and digital tools, web-based research has gained prevalence over the past decades. However, digital adaptations for developmental research involving children have received relatively little attention. In 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic led to reduced social contact, causing many developmental university r...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT In 1999, Doupe and Kuhl published a review of “Birdsong and Human Speech” for the Annual Review of Neuroscience that detailed the commonalities and differences between the two species’ vocal learning and the acquisition of species-specific communicative signals. As part of the review, we outlined a model for both species l...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT Infants are sensitive to the distributional characteristics of the speech they hear, and perception can be altered by the distributional properties of language input. Infants listening to languages with distinct distributional properties show altered perception at the age of 6 months based on learning from ambient language...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT Early auditory abilities play an important role in infants’ ability to acquire language, appreciate music, and navigate the complex acoustic environments around them. However, the neural mechanisms that support infant sound processing are not well understood. This study used magnetoencephalography (MEG) with recent advance...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT Motor and sensory cortices are traditionally thought to be functionally separate systems. However, many studies have shown their roles in both action and perception to be highly integrated. In particular, this has been observed in regard to speech, where listening to speech sounds elicits neural activity in motor regions o...
Preprint
The 'sensitive period' for phonetic learning (~6-12 months) is one of the earliest milestones in language acquisition where infants start to become specialized in processing speech sounds in their native language. In the last decade, advancements in neuroimaging technologies for infants are starting to shed light on the underlying neural mechanisms...
Preprint
The sensitive period for phonetic learning (6~12 months), evidenced by increases in native and declines in nonnative speech processing, represents an early milestone in language acquisition. We examined the extent that sensory encoding of speech is altered by experience during this period by testing two hypotheses: 1) early sensory encoding of nonn...
Article
Full-text available
Comprehensive quantification of intracranial artery features may help to assess and understand regional variations of blood supply during early brain development and aging. We analyzed vasculature features of 27 healthy infants during natural sleep, 13 infants at 7-months (7.3 ± 1.0 month), and 14 infants at 12-months (11.7 ± 0.4 month), and 13 old...
Preprint
Reduced GABA concentrations at rest in the fronto-striatal circuitry are repeatedly implicated in cognitive symptoms of ADHD. However, recent evidence has suggested that GABA and its precursor, glutamate, are capable of undergoing dynamic modifications in response to environments. Yet, it remains unclear how the dynamics between glutamate and GABA...
Article
Full-text available
The ‘sensitive period’ for phonetic learning posits that between 6 and 12 months of age, infants’ discrimination of native and nonnative speech sounds diverge. Individual differences in this dynamic processing of speech have been shown to predict later language acquisition up to 30 months of age, using parental surveys. Yet, it is unclear whether i...
Article
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Myelin development during adolescence is becoming an area of growing interest in view of its potential relationship to cognition, behavior, and learning. While recent investigations suggest that both white matter (WM) and gray matter (GM) undergo protracted myelination during adolescence, quantitative relations between myelin development in WM and...
Article
Full-text available
Developmental dyslexia, a specific difficulty in learning to read and spell, has a strong hereditary component, which makes it possible to examine infants for early predictors of the condition even prior to the emergence of detectable symptoms. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), we found smaller and shorter neural responses to simple sounds in inf...
Article
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The Language ENvironment Analysis system (LENA) records children's language environment and provides an automatic estimate of adult-child conversational turn count (CTC). The present study compares LENA's CTC estimate to manually coded CTC on a sample of 70 English-speaking infants recorded longitudinally at 6, 10, 14, 18, and 24 months of age. At...
Article
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Word learning is a significant milestone in language acquisition. The second year of life marks a period of dramatic advances in infants’ expressive and receptive word-processing abilities. Studies show that in adulthood, language processing is left-hemisphere dominant. However, adults learning a second language activate right-hemisphere brain func...
Preprint
Research on educational technologies for reading instruction is disproportionate to the myriad applications in the marketplace. Here we assess a web-based reading tool, Sound it Out, that assists struggling readers in decoding by annotating vowels with small icons indicating the associate phoneme. Created as a collaboration between researchers and...
Article
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Introduction: Music is ubiquitous and powerful in the world's cultures. Music listening involves abundant information processing (e.g., pitch, rhythm) in the central nervous system and can also induce changes in the physiology, such as heart rate and perspiration. Yet, previous studies tended to examine music information processing in the brain se...
Poster
Infants' sensitivity to nonnative speech contrasts decline between 6 and 12 months, a period that is considered a ‘sensitivity period' for phonetic learning. However, it is yet unknown whether earlier sensory encoding of nonnative speech is also affected by during this key period of transition. To address this question, we recorded frequency-follow...
Poster
It is well demonstrated that sensitivities to small acoustic differences in speech contrasts are heavily influenced by the listeners' language background. At the behavioral level, listeners have been shown to discriminate native speech contrasts better than non-native speech contrasts. At the cortical level, mismatch response have been shown to ind...
Poster
The frequency-following response (FFR) is a neurophonic potential reflecting phase-locked responses from neural ensembles along the auditory pathway. In addition to encoding sound properties, the FFR also reflects listener properties. Recent work shows that adult listener identity can be decoded from the FFRs. Interestingly, listener decoding, but...
Poster
Previous studies report mixed evidence regarding bilinguals' cognitive advantage in inhibition and other executive function (EF) tasks compared to monolinguals. This study aims to replicate previous research on Mandarin-English bilinguals. Forty-four participants (22 English monolinguals & 22 Mandarin-English bilinguals) were recruited to complete...
Article
Full-text available
Background Comprehensive quantification of intracranial vascular characteristics by vascular tracing provides an objective clinical assessment of vascular structure. However, weak signal or low contrast in small distal arteries, artifacts due to volitional motion, and vascular pulsation are challenges for accurate vessel tracing from 3D time-of-fli...
Article
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Parental language input is one of the best predictors of children’s language achievement. Parentese, a near-universal speaking style distinguished by higher pitch, slower tempo, and exaggerated intonation, has been documented in speech directed toward young children in many countries. Previous research shows that the use of parentese and parent–chi...
Article
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We evaluated the impact of exposure to a second language on infants’ emerging speech production skills. We compared speech produced by three groups of 12-month-old infants while they interacted with interlocutors who spoke to them in Spanish and English: monolingual English-learning infants who had previously received 5 hours of exposure to a secon...
Article
Full-text available
Infancy (0–3 years) represents a unique time for language learning. Previous research shows that infants' second language (L2) learning advances rapidly in early education centers, through a research‐based method and curriculum delivered by native‐speaking language tutors. Here we test the potential of this method for broad application, through an...
Article
Full-text available
Successful learning requires the control of attention to monitor performance and compare actual versus expected outcomes. Neural activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) has been linked to attention control in animals. However, it is unknown whether the strength of VTA connections is related to conflict monitoring in humans. To study the relati...
Conference Paper
Previous studies report mixed evidence regarding bilinguals’ cognitive advantage in inhibition and other executive function (EF) tasks compared to monolinguals. This study aims to replicate previous research on Mandarin-English bilinguals. Forty-four participants (22 English monolinguals & 22 Mandarin-English bilinguals) were recruited to complete...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT It is widely agreed that poor reading and spelling performances in individuals with developmental dyslexia underlie problems with processing phonetic units. According to recent child and adult data, such processing deficits likely are the consequence of compromised low-level auditory processing. A possible causal relations...
Presentation
Speech perception and experience-related effects have been theorized and experimentally tested through a wealth of behavioral measures as well as neural measurements focusing on cortical processes. Recently, the complex auditory brainstem response, targeting neural processes at a much earlier stage, has allowed us to generate and test new research...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT Previous research shows that parents’ use of parentese, a nearly universal speaking style distinguished by higher pitch, slower tempo, and exaggerated intonation contours, is associated with advances in children’s language learning. We recently showed that when parents are “coached” about the use of parentese when their in...
Poster
Humans start responding to music even before birth, and one particular measure, heart rate variability (HRV), reflecting the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) function, has been shown to respond to a music stimulus and to music therapy in the NICU. However, whether and how HRV is related to musical rhythm processing has not been examined. A grou...
Article
No PDF available ABSTRACT This magnetoencephaalography (MEG) study investigated the effects of language experience in cue weighting of formant structure supporting native language neural commitment. The speech stimuli were a grid of /ra-la/ synthetic continuua with systematic variations of the second (F2) and third (F3) formants. The subjects were...
Article
Bilingual experience alters brain structure and enhances certain cognitive functions. Bilingualism can also affect mathematical processing. Reduced accuracy is commonly reported when arithmetic problems are presented in bilinguals’ second (L2) vs. first (L1) language. We used MEG brain imaging during mental addition to characterize spatiotemporal d...
Article
The prevalence of parentese in speech directed to 11- and 14-month-old infants predicts infants’ concurrent babbling as well as their future language skills at 24 months, suggesting that this speaking style may enhance learning. We recently showed that when parents are “coached” about the importance of language input to infants, and parentese, they...
Article
Previous studies reveal an association between particular features of parental language input and advances in children's language learning. However, it is not known whether parent coaching aimed to enhance specific input components would (i) successfully increase these components in parents’ language input, and (ii) result in concurrent increases i...
Article
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Studies show that young children learn new phonemes and words from humans significantly better than from machines. However, it is not clear why learning from video is ineffective or what might be done to improve learning from a screen. The present study, conducted with 9-month-old infants, utilized a manipulation—touch screen video—which allowed in...
Conference Paper
Music and speech share many acoustic characteristics. Both utilize dynamic acoustic cues (e.g., frequency, time, intensity) to convey information and emotion. We focus on temporal information processing at a slower time scale (e.g., musical timing, speech rhythm) to examine connections between music and speech: (1) transfer effects, (2) neural mech...
Article
Full-text available
Significance Early linguistic experience affects perception and cortical processing of speech, even in infants. The current study examined whether linguistic effects extend to brainstem speech encoding, where responses are rapid, automatic, and preattentive. We focused on transient consonants and measured perception behaviorally and the correspondi...
Article
Full-text available
Pitch plays a crucial role in music and speech perception. Pitch perception is characterized by multiple perceptual dimensions, such as pitch height and chroma. Information provided by auditory signals that are related to these perceptual dimensions can be either congruent or incongruent. To create conflicting cues for pitch perception, we modified...
Article
James J. Jenkins (J3 to his students) was the quintessential mentor. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the late 1960s in Speech Communication, Jim was a member of my advisory committee, and a strong advocate of my interests and pursuits in the area of language and the brain. Jim set up a research fellowship for me with Dr. Hil...
Article
Full-text available
Executive function (EF) skills enhance learning across domains, and are particularly linked to the acquisition of a second language. Previous studies have shown that bilingual individuals show enhanced EF skills in cognitive tasks where they attended a targeted dimension of a stimulus while inhibiting other competing cues. Brain imaging revealed th...
Article
Musical sounds, along with speech, are the most prominent sounds in our daily lives. They are highly dynamic, yet well structured in the temporal domain in a hierarchical manner. The temporal structures enhance the predictability of musical sounds. Western music provides an excellent example: while time intervals between musical notes are highly va...
Chapter
There is now considerable evidence that social interaction plays a critical role in language acquisition: Typically developing infants’ learning of new language material is excellent when language is experienced during social interaction with a live person, but virtually nonexistent when that same information is presented via a non-interactive mach...
Article
Full-text available
In previous studies, we found that the social interactions infants experience in their everyday lives at 11- and 14-months of age affect language ability at 24 months of age. These studies investigated relationships between the speech style (i.e., parentese speech vs. standard speech) and social context [i.e., one-on-one (1:1) vs. group] of languag...
Poster
Linguistic experience has been demonstrated repeatedly over the past decades as an important factor influencing the perception of speech sounds. At the behavioral level, speakers of different languages identify and discriminate speech sounds differentially (e.g., categorical perception). This has been observed at the cortical level as a reduced Mis...
Article
Significance Second-language learning in adulthood is a topic of wide interest given globalization, and levels of proficiency are highly variable among individuals. Here we demonstrate a significant correlation between individuals’ white matter fiber-tract properties in language areas and participation in an English language immersion program. More...
Poster
Temporal information comprises significant aspects of complex sounds and is hierarchically organized. Using music, we examined higher-level temporal structure processing. While the note-to-note intervals are variable, the underlying isochronous beats can be realized reliably. Temporal structure processing (i.e., meter) involves further grouping of...
Article
Full-text available
Native tonal-language speakers exhibit reduced sensitivity to lexical tone differences within, compared to across, categories (higher-level linguistic category influence). Yet, sensitivity is enhanced among musically trained, non-tonal-language-speaking individuals (lower-level acoustics processing influence). The current study investigated the rel...
Article
Explaining how every typically developing child acquires language is one of the grand challenges of cognitive neuroscience. Historically, language learning provoked classic debates about the contributions of innately specialized as opposed to general learning mechanisms. Now, new data are being brought to bear from studies that employ magnetoenceph...
Article
ASA meetings provided a special time to talk to Ken Stevens and share data and opinions about topics of mutual interest. On one of these occasions, Ken uttered a sentence that stuck with me, “I hate to tell you this, but I think I’m becoming a motor theorist!” He then explained Analysis by Synthesis. In this talk, I’ll share newly published MEG br...
Poster
Full-text available
Native tonal-language speakers exhibit reduced sensitivity to lexical tone differences within categories when compared to across categories (i.e., a top-down linguistic influence). However, increasing evidence suggests enhanced sensitivities to lexical tones among musically trained individuals (bottom-up influence), though previous studies examined...
Article
Full-text available
Previous studies suggest that musicians show an advantage in processing and encoding foreign-language lexical tones. The current experiments examined whether musical experience influences the perceptual learning of lexical tone categories. Experiment I examined whether musicians with no prior experience of tonal languages differed from nonmusicians...
Article
Significance Infants discriminate speech sounds universally until 8 mo of age, then native discrimination improves and nonnative discrimination declines. Using magnetoencephalography, we investigate the contribution of auditory and motor brain systems to this developmental transition. We show that 7-mo-old infants activate auditory and motor brain...
Article
As a graduate student in the 1960s, Joanne Miller was extremely well organized, exceptionally attentive to details, and very goal directed. When Joanne directed that level of attention toward the fine structure of speech and to theories explaining how human perceivers (both adult and infant) deciphered it, many important discoveries were made. In t...
Article
We report the benefit of Infant Directed Speech (IDS) on speech discrimination in 11- and 14 month-old monolingual (N = 16) and bilingual infants (N = 14). Mothers were instructed to read a booklet to their infants that contained sentences with target words (e.g., park, tear, bark, deer, etc.) at least once a day for four days. This activity was re...
Article
Language input is necessary for language learning, yet little is known about whether, in natural environments, the speech style and social context of language input to children impacts language development. In the present study we investigated the relationship between language input and language development, examining both the style of parental spe...
Article
Behavioral research indicates that bilingual children and adults outperform monolinguals at executive function tasks, especially those related to cognitive flexibility, suggesting that experience with two languages alters brain structure. We investigated white-matter microstructure using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) in monolingual (n = 15)...
Conference Paper
Investigations of musical training provide a way to study neural plasticity within the domain of music, as well as to study transfer effects to other domains (speech). Previous research has reported anatomical and functional differences between musically trained and non-trained individuals. However, these studies have not addressed several issues,...
Article
Full-text available
Due to the rapid anatomical changes that occur within the brain structure in early human development and the significant differences between infant brains and the widely used standard adult templates, it becomes increasingly important to utilize appropriate age- and population-specific average templates when analyzing infant neuroimaging data. In t...
Article
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scans were obtained from 19 infants at 7months. Expressive and receptive language performance was assessed at 12months. Voxel-based morphometry (VBM) identified brain regions where gray-matter and white-matter concentrations at 7months correlated significantly with children's language scores at 12months. Early...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Infants gather information about the phonetic properties of their language by listening to adults speak, and adults alter their speech to ease infant perception (e.g. Kuhl et al., 1997). The present study aims to assesses speech style effects through phonetic analysis of voice onset time (VOT) in infant-directed versus adult-directed speech (IDS an...
Article
Cross-cultural studies show that infants are born with innate abilities that make them "citizens of the world." By the end of the first year of life, however, culture produces a dramatic transition. Infants' abilities to discern differences in native-language sounds increase, and their abilities to discriminate sounds from other languages decreases...
Conference Paper
Naturally produced speech is highly variable. Previous descriptions of lexical tone contours tend to be based on a single production or productions from a single speaker. Here we describe a method to model Mandarin Tone 2 and Tone 3 accounting for both intra- and inter-speaker variability. Five female speakers, born and raised in Beijing, were reco...
Poster
Full-text available
The relationship between music and speech processing is of great interest. Lexical tones, contrastive pitch-modulation patterns at the word level, are an ideal tool to explore these relations. Previous studies suggest that musicians exhibit an advantage in discriminating lexical tones. The current study aims to explore whether having extensive musi...
Article
Full-text available
Prenatal experience with infant- and child-directed speech (IDS/CDS) may affect newborns' speech perception. We examined this possibility using an existing neonatal database from a recent cross-language study (Moon, Lagercrantz, & Kuhl, 2011). Seventy-three American and Swedish neonates (Mage = 32.58 hr, SD = 13.58 hr) were retrospectively coded as...
Article
Neural systems in the human brain that process auditory information about who spoke and what they said are functionally integrated.
Article
Most scientists consider talking to the media akin to crossing a minefield with no protection. You not only have to worry about potentially making a fool of yourself or failing to describe your work in language a lay audience can digest. You also have to worry about properly highlighting the role played by your institution, your home department, yo...
Article
Two-year-olds produce third person singular -s more accurately on verbs in sentence-final position as compared with verbs in sentence-medial position. This study was designed to determine whether these sentence-position effects can be explained by perceptual factors. For this purpose, the authors compared 22- and 27-month-olds' perception and elici...
Article
Full-text available
In this study, behavioral and brain measures were taken to assess the effects of training a Japanese adult subject to perceptually distinguish English /l/ and /r/. Behavioral data showed significant improvement in identifying both trained and untrained speech stimuli. Correspondingly, neuromagnetic results showed enhanced mismatch field responses i...
Article
Kuhl et al. [Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 100, 9096–9101 (2003)] showed that the decline in the discrimination of non‐native perceptual contrasts observed during development can be reversed with short‐term exposure to a non‐native language. In this poster, the question of whether short‐term exposure also impacts the speech produced by infants is a...
Article
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by correlated deficiencies in social and language development. This study explored a fundamental aspect of auditory information processing (AIP) that is dependent on social experience and critical to early language development: the ability to compartmentalize close-sounding speech sounds into singu...
Article
Phonetic perception is providing a great deal of information about how language is learned by infants. Inherent abilities to differentiate the phonetic units of all languages and a powerful ability to learn specific phonetic patterns from exposure to natural language in natural contexts allows infants in the first year to develop skills that will p...