Language and the infant brain

  • Bates E
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Abstract

Three logically and empirically independent issues are often conflated in theory and research on brain and language: localization, innateness, and domain specificity. Research on adults and infants with focal brain injury support the following conclusions: (a) linguistic knowledge is not innate, and it is not localized in a clear and compact form in either the infant or adult brain; (b) the infant brain is not, however, a tabala rasa-it is already highly differentiated at birth, and certain regions are biased from the beginning toward modes of information processing that are particularly useful for language, leading (in the absence of local injury) to the standard form of brain organization for language; (c) the processing biases that lead to the 'standard brain plan' are innate and localized, in both infants and adults, but they are not specific to language; and (d) the infant brain is highly plastic, permitting alternative 'brain plans' for language to emerge if the standard situation does not hold. Copyright (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Brain damage
  • Brain development
  • Childhood aphasia
  • Language acquisition

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Authors

  • Elizabeth Bates

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