The Development of Speech Perception Early in Life: How Do We Study It with Optics?

November 5th, 2018 JUDIT GERVAIN Senior Research Scientist, Speech Perception group, Université Paris Descartes

Judit Gervain obtained her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati (SISSA), Trieste, Italy in 2007. After a 2 year post doctoral position at the Department of Psychology of the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, she took up a researcher position at the Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception in Paris, France in 2009. Her research focuses on the perceptual, cognitive and neural mechanisms involved in speech perception and language acquisition early in life. She is one of the leading experts on the use of near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) with developmental populations. She has been using NIRS to identify the neural correlates of speech perception and language development from birth onwards. Her work has been published in high-impact journal (e.g. Gervain et al. 2008 PNAS; Gervain & Werker 2013 Nature Communications). She has recently obtained an ERC Consolidator Grant in which she proposes to combine NIRS with EEG measures to explore how prenatal experience with speech lays the foundations for language acquisition. Abstract Learning language is a fundamental achievement of all healthy human infants. However, the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms have been puzzling scholars for decade. Here, I am going to present a series of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) studies with newborns showing that prenatal experience with speech heard in the womb already shapes the brain and modulates how babies perceive speech. I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using fNIRS to study early human development.

Monday, November 5, 2018, 12:00. ICFO Auditorium