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Reiko Mazuka

PhD in Developmental Psychology, Cornell University
【Areas of specialization】
Developmental psychology, language acquisition, psycholinguistics,
Infant speech perception
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Investigating human language acquisition using phonological features of Japanese

The purpose of our research is to shed light on our understanding of human brain development by investigating the process of acquisition of language skills, specifically in relation to phonological development.Since the sound system of a language is one of the first things infants learn, an examination of the initial stages of phonological acquisition can provide critical insight into how the human brain is structured to learn a language.In particular, as language prosody is an essential (perhaps the critical) key by which children first make sense of the structures of their languages, our program of research attempts to understand the course of development by which specific prosodic phenomena are naturally acquired.

Utilization of Prosody: Representation and Access

We approach prosodic development from another perspective by studying preschool and school-aged children, whose developmental issues are significantly different from infants.A major motivation for this line of study is the seeming paradoxes that children of this age present. For example, previous studies have repeatedly found that young children do not use prosodic cues very well to comprehend language, yet other studies have shown that infants are highly sensitive to prosodic cues (e.g., Seidl, 2007).Also, while children demonstrate an excellent grasp of linguistic knowledge, they often fail to comprehend some of the most basic types of sentence construction.