Critical Period

Topics: Linguistics, Second language acquisition, Critical period Pages: 3 (640 words) Published: November 8, 2008
Critical period
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This article is about a critical period in an organism's development. See also America's Critical Period. In general, a critical period is a limited time in which an event can occur, usually to result in some kind of transformation. A "critical period" in developmental psychology and developmental biology is a time in the early stages of an organism's life during which it displays a heightened sensitivity to certain environmental stimuli, and develops in particular ways due to experiences at this time. If the organism does not receive the appropriate stimulus during this "critical period", it may be difficult, ultimately less successful, or even impossible, to develop some functions later in life.[1] For example, the critical period for the development of a human child's binocular vision is thought to be between one and three years,[1] and further critical periods have been identified for the development of hearing and the vestibular system.[2] There are critical periods in childhood in which imprinting can occur, such as when a greylag goose becomes attached to a parent figure within the first 36 hours after hatching. A young chaffinch must hear an adult singing before it sexually matures, or it will never properly learn the highly intricate song.[3] These observations have led some to hypothesise a critical period for certain areas of human learning, particularly language acquisition. Experimental research into critical periods has involved depriving animals of stimuli at different stages of development. Other studies have looked at children deprived of certain experiences due to illness (such as temporary blindness), or social isolation (such as feral children). Many of the studies investigating a critical period for language acquisition have focused on deaf children of hearing parents. Contents

1 Linguistics
o1.1 First language acquisition
o1.2 Second...
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