SRCLD 2022 SRCLD Presentation Details
    How Language Acquisition Affects the Neural Processing of Language  
Rachel I. Mayberry - University of California, San Diego

SRCLD Year: 2009
Presentation Type: Invited Speaker
Presentation Time: (na)
Most of what we know about adult language ability is derived from the ideal case of language acquisition. The infant who hears and overhears language spoken in and out of the home becomes the idealized speaker-hearer that scientists model. Sign language research illuminates the degree to which language ability is independent of sensory-motor modality. Crucially, sign language reveals the extent to which the timing of linguistic input during early life affects the mature ability to comprehend language. This is because the circumstances of sign language acquisition vary enormously from the ideal case for many individuals born profoundly deaf. Like spoken languages, ASL (American Sign Language) can be acquired in infancy as a first language or after infancy as a second language. Unlike spoken language, ASL is also learned as a first language at ages well beyond infancy. Here I discuss recent psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic findings showing how the mature ability to comprehend language is affected by the onset of language exposure during early life in ways that illuminate the origins of language in the individual.
Author Biosketch(es)

Rachel Mayberry is Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, San Diego, where she is affiliated with the Center for Research on Language, the Center for Human Development, and the Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders. Her research has yielded key insights into the nature of the critical period for language some of which have been published in Nature. Her work on co-speech gesture has been pioneering, including the discovery that gesture complexity is tightly linked to syntactic complexity in bilingual acquisition and fluency disorder. She is co-editor of Language Acquisition by Eye, an influential work setting the framework for research into sign language acquisition and the linguistic bases of reading development.

She received her Ph.D. from McGill University where she was on the faculty for many years and served as Director of the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Faculty of Medicine. She was recipient of a new investigator award from NIH and has since received multiple research grants for her work in Canada and the USA. She directs the Laboratory for Comparative Language Acquisition at UCSD.