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A-78: Early Ontogeny of Attunement to the Language Environment
(Catherine T. Best, PI)

Research Goals. The purpose of this research is to trace the developmental course of infants’ attunement to the speech they hear by monitoring and identifying the changes that take place in their perceptual and vocal capabilities. Specially prepared prosodic and segmental stimuli drawn from native and non-native languages are used to probe infants' perceptual capabilities. Signal processing techniques are used to analyze infants’ productions. By comparing infant with adult performances, efforts are made to discover the stages at which the various abilities evolve that infants need to speak the language of their community.

Current status. This project was first funded in 1988. Until recently, almost all of the experimental work on infants had been performed at Wesleyan University in Middletown where Cathi held a professorship in psychology. Cathi currently holds a professorship at the University of West Sydney in Australia. She remains PI of the grant, now based at Haskins, which has its own Child Language Studies laboratory currently being run by Julia Irwin in collaboration with Cathi. The project's renewal application was funded beginning April 1, 2002 for five years. The project is on an unfunded extension. Cathi plans to submit a renewal for the July, 2008 deadline.