Publications of Mehler, J.

Near-infrared spectroscopy: A report from the McDonnell Infant Methodology Consortium

Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a new and increasingly widespread brain imaging technique, particularly suitable for young infants. The laboratories of the McDonnell Consortium have contributed to the technological development and research applications of this technique for nearly a decade. The present paper provides a general introduction to the technique as well as a detailed report of the methodological innovations developed by the Consortium. The basic principles of NIRS and some of the existing developmental studies are reviewed. Issues concerning technological improvements, parameter optimization, possible experimental designs and data analysis techniques are discussed and illustrated by novel empirical data.

Flexible learning of multiple speech structures in bilingual infants

Children acquire their native language according to a well-defined time frame. Surprisingly, although children raised in bilingual environments have to learn roughly twice as much about language as their monolingual peers, the speed of acquisition is comparable in monolinguals and bilinguals. Here, we show that preverbal 12-month-old bilingual infants have become more flexible at learning speech structures than monolinguals. When given the opportunity to simultaneously learn two different regularities, bilingual infants learned both, whereas monolinguals learned only one of them. Hence, bilinguals may acquire two languages in the time in which monolinguals acquire one because they quickly become more flexible learners.