Strand 4: Representation and treatment of the language in a “Lifespan” perspective

Updated: Jun 28

Manager : Thierry Nazzi- INCC – Université de Paris; co-responsable : Carla Soares-Jesel, LLF – Université de Paris




Strand 4 has been proposed to stimulate research and create new synergies in the field of language processing, taking into account a lifespan perspective. It aims to build bridges between psycholinguistics, linguistics and developmental psychology. While the strand focuses primarily on language acquisition, it also explores issues related to aging, and language formation (related to the study of Creoles).


We study the acquisition of various aspects of language, in connection with Strand 1 (phonetics/phonology), Strand 2 (morphology/syntax) and Strand 7 (on more methodological aspects). These new collaborations have made it possible to create new links between researchers from the Universities of Paris 3 and University de Paris, who use different approaches to study related phenomena (such as, for example, between psycholinguists interested in language acquisition and phoneticians interested in adult productions).

The main goal of our research is to identify the constraints on cortical development underlying language acquisition, the role of language-general properties, the role of properties specific to the mother tongue(s), and the dynamics of interactions between endogenous constraints on cortical development and environmental input. Different levels of processing (auditory, phonological, lexical, syntactic...) and their integration are explored, using different behavioral and imaging methods (ERPs, NIRS). We are interested in a wide range of populations: typically developing infants/children; adults; atypically developing populations: implanted deaf children, premature children, children with developmental disorders (dyslexia, Williams syndrome, ...).


Our research has led to innovative discoveries. We have specified some of the early mechanisms involved in oral (from birth) and written (from elementary school) language acquisition, and we have begun to identify their neural bases (using EEG and NIR). Promoting a comparative approach, our results have important implications for models of language acquisition and processing. Our work has also contributed to a better understanding of language acquisition and processing by bilinguals, highlighting early advantages and specifying the links between the two language systems. Our work covers many languages (including non-European languages), with a particular interest in Creoles (otherwise little studied). Finally, our research on atypical development allows us to identify treatment/representation deficits in these populations, a step towards the development of appropriate remediation techniques.

To give a few examples, our work has shown that certain early treatment biases (and their neural bases, highlighted by NIRS) involved in prosodic treatment are already modulated at birth by prenatal language experience (monolingual or bilingual). Studies on the determinants of dyslexia (within the framework of allophonic theory) have led to the development of remediation software available on smartphones. Our work on the syntax of Creole languages has led to the realization of the first studies on the perception of speech by children/adults speaking Creole languages.


Since the start of LABEX, Strand 4 has produced numerous publications (25 peer-reviewed articles, and about 20 book chapters and conference proceedings for the year 2016).

Twelve PhD students and 7 post-doctoral researchers have worked directly on Axis 4 projects during these years. We also welcomed several visiting professors (Géraldine Legendre, Johns Hopkins University; Irene Vogel, University of Delaware; Barbara Höhle, Potsdam University), and sent or hosted several PhD students, coming or going from foreign laboratories. With this work on language acquisition, bilingualism, and atypically developing populations, our research has implications for education, a more positive perception of bilingualism, and the medical community (specialized education and remediation).

The axis has been strongly involved in valorization actions aimed at the general public.

OLA : Acquisition du langage oral

WLA : Acquisition du langage écrit (resp. L. Sprenger Charolles)

  • WLA3 L’utilisation d’informations morphologiques pour apprendre l’orthographe de nouveaux mots (resp. S. Pacton) Lpncog/Mem-cog, LLF, Alpage

  • WLA4 Succès et échecs dans l’acquisition de la lecture (resp. L. Sprenger-Charolles) LPP-P5, Lpncog/Memcog

  • WLA5 Formation et développement d’outils de recherche et d’enseignement (resp. L. Sprenger-Charolles) LPP-P5, Lpncog/Memcog

AA : Acquisition du langage atypique

  • AA1 Preterms

  • AA2 Evaluation des implants cochléaires

  • AA3 Remédiation de la perception allophonique dans la dyslexie

  • AA4 Relation entre les troubles du langage spécifiques écrits (dyslexie) et orale (SLI) (resp. L. Sprenger Charolles) LPP-P5, LLF

  • AA5 Williams

LD : Interférence et déclin de la langue

  • LD1 Contrôle cognitif, vieillissement et maladie de Parkinson (resp. B. Hemforth, P. Piolino) Lpncog/Memcog, LLF

  • LD3 Émergence et morphosyntaxe des langues créoles (resp. O. Bonami, A. Kihm) LLF, LPP3

Opérations de l’Axe 4 (2020-2025)

TYPMP1 Neuroimaging of newborn speech processing and the role of prenatal experience Judit Gervain (INCC)


TYPMP2 Acoustics of speech Laurianne Cabrera (INCC)

TYPMP3 Segmental and tonal processing in early development Thierry Nazzi (INCC)


TYPMP4 Taking advantage of the typological diversity in African languages Thierry Nazzi (INCC) Marc Van De Velde (Llacan)

TYPMP5 The role of morphological and graphotactic knowledge in spelling acquisition Sébastien Pacton (LMC)


TYPSS1 Non-verbal social signals in the lifespan Jonathan Ginzburg (LLF)


TYPSS2 Meaning in early lexical and visual processing Pia Rämä (INCC)

TYPSS3 Morphosyntactic acquisition and processing Judit Gervain (INCC) – Carla Soares-Jesel (LLF)


DD1 Understanding individual variability in typical language acquisition Thierry Nazzi (INCC)


DD2 Impact of bilingual environment on language acquisition and processing Ranka Bijeljac-Babic (Université de Poitiers / INCC)

DD3 Language formation, acquisition and processing: The case of Creole languages Guillaume Fon Sing (LLF) – Barbara Hemforth (LLF)


DD4 Atypical development Laurianne Cabrera (INCC)