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How Children Learn: Language, Hearing and the Brain

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Published on Dec 20, 2011

Patricia Kuhl, A. James Hudspeth, The Rockefeller University: Long before they utter intelligible words, babies are absorbing and processing all kinds of information, including the patterns and nuances of adult speech. In fact, careful analysis of infant babblings reveals that 20‐month‐olds can separate the distinct vowel sounds of their native tongue. We know this thanks to the intriguing research of Patricia Kuhl, whose work is showing how the brainʹs development is integrated with the rapid and prodigious learning that characterizes early childhood. Dr. Kuhlʹs experiments are revolutionizing the scientific understanding of how children acquire language and develop the many other skills that will provide a foundation for learning throughout life. Her work has important implications for education theory and for the study of developmental disabilities involving language. Interestingly, Dr. Kuhlʹs discoveries have also influenced applied research on computer language recognition. Dr. Kuhl, co‐director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, where she is a professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, spoke at the spring 2008 Parents & Science program (please note: video footage from an earlier Spring 2002 Women & Science presentation).

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