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Roseann Sawyer

2003 Research

Abstract: First Language Acquisition and Brain Development Examining Language Development and The Validity of the Critical Period Hypothesis

Mentor: Dr. Tracey McHenry, English Department

One of the founding hypotheses in the field of Linguistics is the Critical Period Hypothesis. This hypothesis presents the possibility that there is a limited period during which a person can fully learn a language and build a complete grammar. The actual validity of this hypothesis is yet to be determined; however, there is a strong evidence to support the idea that language delays and deficiencies will occur if a first language is not acquired by the end of puberty. This project examines the validity of the Critical Period Hypothesis in circumstances where brain development has occurred within the language faculty of the brain. Though many types of brain trauma exist, this paper focuses on instances of abuse and the amount of stimulation that has occurs during the developmental stages, cases of Aphasia, and instances of Specific Language Impairment. The different instances in which the damaged parts of a grammar can be regained and times when abilities are lost permanently are examined.


12th McNair WI Conference & Graduate Fair 11/7-9/2003

7th Annual Research & CW Symposium, EWU, May, 19, 2004

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