Start-end : 2016-2019
This operation aims to investigate neural mechanisms underlying word acquisition in young children, and how age, vocabulary skills, and language experience (monolingual versus bilingual) influence formation of novel memory representations for words. The second aim is to investigate how selective attention contributes to lexical acquisition during early development.
We demonstrated that repetitive exposure to previously unknown words during the course of experiment modulated the brain activity in young children (Aygun & Rämä, 2018). In contrast to evidence obtained earlier in adults (Kimppa, Kujala, Leminen, Vainio, & Shtyrov, 2015), a similar modulation was observed also for non-native-like words in children, suggesting a higher plasticity in developing brain. The modulation was not observed for familiar words, suggesting that it might represent a neural correlate of lexical learning. Interestingly, in bilingual children, the ERPs for unfamiliar (both native and non-native words) stayed unchanged during the course of experiment, while neuronal modulation was observed only for familiar words (Rämä & Aygun, in prep). These results suggest that bilingual language exposure during early childhood may affect the strength of lexical representations even in their dominant language.