CORDIS - EU research results

INtersensory Cooperation in phonological DEvelopment

Project description

From mouth to ear: effects of sensorimotor maturity in phonological development

While there are many ways that living organisms interact and communicate, speech really sets humans apart. Phonology is the study of the sound patterns in a language and of their organisation in the brain. As to speech development, anyone who has been close to a developing infant is familiar with a progression from cooing, to babbling, to the first meaningful words. In a developmental perspective, phonology studies how the system of speech sounds is set in the infant mind. The EU-funded project INCODE is investigating phonological development in infants by asking whether the maturation of the sensorimotor system plays a relevant role in this process. While former research has revealed that sensorimotor information is recruited in speech processing from early on, it is now necessary to understand the functional role of this phenomenon.


This proposal investigates the functional role of sensorimotor maturation in two early phonological achievements: phonological specialization (partA) and the emergence of early processing biases (PartB).
PartA: Two groups of 10.5-to-12.5-month-olds will undertake two fNIRS experiment following Minagawa-Kawai et al. (2007) with a major modification: one group of infant will complete the task with Early-Learned (own) phonemes (Experiment 1); the other with Late-Learned (non-own) phonemes (Experiment 2). For each infant, we will collect two indexes of linguistic/oral sensorimotor development. The statistical analyses (ANOVAs/Linear Mixed Models) will assess whether these indexes predict, for each experiment: (i) early neurofunctional markers of phonological specialization; (b) the degree of activation in frontal-motor areas.
PartB: Four groups of 6.30-to-7.30-month-olds will undertake an adapted version of the Conflict Task in Nishibayashi & Nazzi (2016). Each group will be composed by infants already producing consonants (C-prods) and infants not yet producing consonants (Non-C-prods). Each group will be assigned to one of the following conditions: (1) test of own sensorimotor knowledge: the participants will perform the conflict task; the analyses will assess whether a difference is observed between C-producers vs Non-C-producers; (2, 3, 4) Test of own and administrated sensorimotor knowledge: the participants will perform the conflict task wearing a mouth-toy that either (2) enhances, (3) inhibits or (4) is neutral with respect to the movements underlying the test items' production. The statistical analyses (ANOVAs/Linear Mixed Models) will assess if the production-status of the participants predict the emergence of the C-bias. This will be the first experiment to evaluate the effects of mouth-toys on participants endowed with different levels of sensorimotor development: will mouth-toys have the same effect on infants endowed with higher/lower sensorimotor skills?


Net EU contribution
€ 196 707,84
75006 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 196 707,84