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Shirley Cheung

Former Research Student

Shirley Cheung

My Role

I was a PhD student funded by the Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarship Programme on Interdisciplinary Research in Infant Development. More information about the scholarship programme can be found here.

Current Research

I explored phonemic perception in monolinguals and bilinguals. Phonemes are small units of sound in a language that distinguish one word from another, for example, /b/ and /p/ in 'bill' and 'pill'. By 10-12 months of age, monolingual infants are no longer sensitive to phonemic contrasts that belong outside of their native language. However, studies have shown that bilinguals still retain this perceptual flexibility given the greater variability in their language input. The exact location of where it occurs in the brain has not been clearly shown. 

I used functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to locate the cortical regions involved in processing native and non-native phonemes in infants and adults. fNIRS is a non-invasive neuroimaging technique that measures blood-oxygen levels at the surface of the cortex using infrared light. 

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