Common neural basis for phoneme processing in infants and adults

G. Dehaene-Lambertz, T. Gliga

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Investigating the degree of similarity between infants' and adults' representation of speech is critical to our understanding of infants' ability to acquire language. Phoneme perception plays a crucial role in language processing, and numerous behavioral studies have demonstrated similar capacities in infants and adults, but are these subserved by the same neural substrates or networks? In this article, we review event-related potential (ERP) results obtained in infants during phoneme discrimination tasks and compare them to results from the adult literature. The striking similarities observed both in behavior and ERPs between initial and mature stages suggest a continuity in processing and neural structure. We argue that infants have access at the beginning of life to phonemic representations, which are modified without training or implicit instruction, but by the statistical distributions of speech input in order to converge to the native phonemic categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1375-1387
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004
Externally publishedYes

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