First Language Acquisition
Language is an extremely complex system, which is continuously subject to change. Despite this complexity and a vast amount of variation, children learn their mother tongue quickly and efficiently. The challenge is to discover how children learn the structure of language, what aspects of language they store language in their brain, and how this developmentally affects their use of language.
The research of the First Language Acquisition programme is on the acquisition of phonological representations in the lexicon, the role of these representations in perception and production, and their interaction with morphosyntax. Phonological representations mediate between the acoustic signal and meaning in speech perception and between meaning and the articulatory output in speech production. Thus, these representations lay the foundation for successful communication. Yet, the nature of phonological representations that are built up during language acquisition and the mechanisms behind that are far from clear.
Much of our research takes place in the Baby and Child Research Center and uses both behavioural and neurocognitive methods to investigate children’s knowledge of segmental and prosodic structure. This groups closely collaborates with the Language Development Department led by Caroline Rowland at the MPI.
The group participates in two interdisciplinary projects: Kletskoppen and BRC.