We know that in adults, speech sounds are encoded in an abstract phonological representation that incorporates language-specific properties. We investigate this representation in three lines of research. First, we study the way in which it develops during first language acquisition. Second, we examine the processing of speech sounds in adults. Third, we explore deficits in the processing of speech sounds.
Are phonological representations acquired before or after the lexicon ? If they are acquired prelexically, what are the learning mechanisms that allow for this acquisition? We explore these question by means of both modelling studies and behavioural experiments with infants.
What are the functional models that account for phonological processing observed in adults, and what are the limits of the processing of non-native sounds? What are the consequences of the limits for linguistic theory, in particular for phenomena of languages in contact? And what are the neural bases of phonological processing? The questions are examined using several techniques: adult psycholinguistics, theoretical linguistics and sociolinguistics, as well as brain imagery.
Our studies on the deficits of the speech sound processing system are based on neuropsychological explorations of aphasic patients. Our aim is to account for the phonological deficits observed in these patients within a theoretical framework of speech processing.