Janet Werker, Ph.D. University Killam Professor and Canada Research Chair, Department of Psychology, University of British Columbia, Canada
Thursday, February 18, 2021 - 12:30pm
Understanding speech perception development: Critical periods and multisensory influences
Infants are born with perceptual sensitivities that predispose them to attend to human speech and talking human faces and to represent core properties of each. Moreover, as early as they have been tested, infant auditory speech perception is influenced by temporal and structural relations between heard, seen, and felt speech - all without prior specific experience. In this talk, I will explore the multisensory speech perception capabilities of the very young human infant, how these change across development and learning to map on to the characteristics of the native language (languages in the case of the bilingual infants), all within a framework of how cascading critical periods might act to gate and/or amplify experience. The theoretical implications of this work for models of speech perception will be discussed, as will implications for special populations.