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Toscano, Joseph C. et al. 
A single mechanism for language learning across the lifespan 
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Aprendizaje, comprensión auditiva 
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It is often assumed that language development occurs during a critical period and that the plasticity of the brain areas involved decreases afterwards, making language acquisition difficult or impossible. Yet, adults also exhibit implicit language learning, for example, when adapting to novel accents. However, these are typically regarded as separate processes because acquisition and adaptation occur over vastly different time-scalesÑa single mechanism would not seem to be sufficient. Focusing on one specific phonetic contrast (voicing), we find that the same statistical learning mechanism can explain speech development in infancy and adaptation in adulthood. This is achieved without any changes in plasticity or different learning mechanisms reflecting a critical period. The model we present calls into question the need for critical periods to explain phonological acquisition and adaptation, and it shows a way forward in addressing this question for a broader range of problems in language acquisition. 
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