The Critical Period Hypothesis of Language Acquisition Essay

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The Critical Period Hypothesis of Language Acquisition

"Ahhhhh!" I yell in frustration. "I've been studying Spanish for seven years, and I still can't speak it fluently."

"Well, honey, it's not your fault. You didn't start young enough," my mom says, trying to comfort me.

Although she doesn't know it, she is basing her statement on the Critical Period Hypothesis. The Critical Period Hypothesis proposes that the human brain is only malleable, in terms of language, for a limited time. This can be compared to the critical period referred to in to the imprinting seen in some species, such as geese. During a short period of time after a gosling hatches, it begins to follow the first moving object that it sees. This is its
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The problems caused by these lesions led to the discovery of Broca's area as the sight for the production of speech and Wernicke's area as tied to language comprehension. (2) The location of these areas, as well as the effects of anesthetizing one half of the brain have lead scientists to believe that language is primarily dealt with by the left hemisphere of the brain.

Recent studies have shown that activity in the planum temporale and the left inferior frontal cortex during acts of language are not unique to hearing individuals and therefore cannot be attributed to auditory stimuli. The same brain activity was shown in deaf individuals who were doing the equivalent language task in sign language. This adds more support to the idea of specific areas of the brain devoted to language. (3)

Noam Chomksy suggests that the human brain also contains a language acquisition device (LAD) that is preprogrammed to process language. He was influential in extending the science of language learning to the languages themselves. (4) (5) Chomsky noticed that children learn the rules of grammar without being explicitly told what they are. They learn these rules through examples that they hear and amazingly the brain pieces these samples together to form the rules of the grammar of the language they are learning. This all happens very quickly, much more quickly than seems logical. Chomsky's LAD contains a preexisting set of
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