Starting with Petitto et al. (2012), we are experimenting with producing ASL translations of important research articles and community education materials. Here, Erin Spurgeon, a 2012-2014 BL2 intern, and Geo Kartheiser, a 2012-present BL2 intern and PEN student, summarize Dr. Petitto’s fNIRS neuroimaging study of phonetic processing in young monolingual and bilingual babies. Dr. Petitto and he team fond evidence for a “Perceptual Wedge Hypothesis” explaining how exposure to more than one language may alter neural and language processing in ways that confer advantages to bilinguals. In short, bilingual babies demonstrated neural and behavioral sensitivity to phonetic contrasts in non-native languages longer than monolingual babies, suggesting that the “window of opportunity” to learn languages remains open longer for babies who are already learning more than one languages than for babies who are learning only one language.

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The “Perceptual Wedge Hypothesis” as the basis for bilingual babies’ phonetic processing advantage: New insights from fNIRS brain imaging. (2012). Petitto, Berens, Kovelman, Dubins, Jasinska, & Shalinsky; Please see Petitto’s published papers and abstracts here.