Are bilingual infants different? Testing the Heightened Acoustic

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Are bilingual infants different? Testing the Heightened Acoustic Sensitivity Hypothesis
in bilingual infants
Bilingual infants display some unique properties/advantages in infancy, including adaptive learning
strategies, cognitive control, and neural plasticity. In our previous work, we found that 1) bilingual
infants perceived a native vowel contrast 3 months earlier than monolingual infants; and 2) they
recovered their sensitivity to a non-native tone contrast 6 months earlier than monolinguals. These
findings lead to a heightened acoustic sensitivity hypothesis (HASH). That is, bilingual infants are
more sensitive to the acoustic details in the input, and this sensitivity may be cross-domain.
Heightened acoustic sensitivity may be another advantage that is caused by bilingual exposure. In
this talk, I propose a follow-up study, testing the HASH hypothesis from linguistic as well as
acoustic/music domains. 8-9-month-old Dutch mono- and bilingual infants will be tested on a Tagalog
consonant contrast (Narayan et al., 2010) and a violin tone contrast (Mattock & Burnham, 2006) that
resembles the non-native tone contrast in our previous work.
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