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To understand mechanisms of early language acquisition, it is important to know whether the child's brain acts in an adult-like manner when processing words in meaningful contexts. The N400, a negative component in the eventrelated potential (ERP) of adults, is a sensitive index of semantic processing reflecting neural mechanisms of semantic integration(More)
We recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) in 2-month-old infants in two different states of alertness: awake and asleep. Syllables varying in vowel duration (long vs short) were presented in an oddball paradigm, known to elicit a mismatch brain response. ERPs of both groups showed a mismatch response reflected in a positivity followed by a frontal(More)
During their first year of life, infants not only acquire probabilistic knowledge about the phonetic, prosodic, and phonotactic organization of their native language, but also begin to establish first lexical-semantic representations. The present study investigated the sensitivity to phonotactic regularities and its impact on semantic processing in(More)
Language is the most important faculty that distinguishes humans from other animals. Infants learn their native language fast and effortlessly during the first years of life, as a function of the linguistic input in their environment. Behavioral studies reported the discrimination of melodic contours [1] and stress patterns [2, 3] in 1-4-month-olds.(More)
There has been general consensus that initial word learning during early infancy is a slow and time-consuming process that requires very frequent exposure, whereas later in development, infants are able to quickly learn a novel word for a novel meaning. From the perspective of memory maturation, this shift in behavioral development might represent a shift(More)
The present study investigated whether delayed auditory processing typically found in children with specific language impairment (SLI) can already be observed in the event-related potentials of 2-month-old infants. Infants with and without a family history of SLI were tested in a passive auditory oddball paradigm with CV-syllables differing in vowel(More)
Recent developmental research on word processing has shown that mechanisms of lexical priming are already present in 12-month-olds whereas mechanisms of semantic integration indexed by the N400 mature a few months later. In a longitudinal setting we investigated whether the occurrence of an N400 at 19 months is associated with the children's language skills(More)
Between 12 and 14 months infants switch from slow to fast word learning mode. The neural processes involved in this development are largely unknown. This study explored the brain activity related to the fast learning of object-word mappings in 14-month-old infants. After four repetitions of eight object-word pairs, two priming effects known from earlier(More)
Language acquisition crucially depends on the ability of the child to segment the incoming speech stream. Behavioral evidence supports the hypothesis that infants are sensitive to the rhythmic properties of the language input. We recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) to varying stress patterns of two syllable items in adults as well as in 4- and(More)
Event-related brain potential (ERP) studies of sentence processing in adults have shown that phrase-structure violations are associated with two ERP components: an early left anterior negativity (ELAN) and a late, centro-parietal positivity (P600). Although the ELAN reflects highly automatic first-pass sentence parsing, the P600 has been interpreted to(More)