• Reiko Mazuka

  • Associate Research Professor
  • Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Phone: (919) 660-5690
  • Fax: (919) 660-5726
  • Homepage
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Specialties

    • Developmental Psychology
  • Research Summary

    Language Acquisition
  • Research Description

    The purpose of our research is to shed light on our understanding of human brain development by investigating the process of acquisition of language skills, specifically in relation to phonological development. Since the sound system of a language is one of the first things infants learn, an examination of the initial stages of phonological acquisition can provide critical insight into how the human brain is structured to learn a language. In particular, as language prosody is an essential (perhaps the critical) key by which children first make sense of the structures of their languages, our program of research is designed to utilize the latest knowledge and technologies (such as Near Infrared Spectroscopy) to ascertain the course of development by which specific prosodic phenomena are naturally acquired.
  • Current Projects

    Characteristics of Japanese infant-directed speech, Acquisition of quantity-based phonemic categories , Role of linguistic markedness and input frequency on infants' acquisition of phonemic categories, Role of prosody on children and adults' sentence comprehension , Executive function and children's sentence processing, Inhibition function and sentence processing
  • Areas of Interest

    infant speech perception
    phonological development
    prosody of Japanese
    role of executive function on language acquisition
    individual differences in infants' abiliy to learn language
  • Education

      • PhD,
      • Cornell University,
      • 1990
      • MS,
      • Linguistics,
      • University of Edinburgh,
      • 1984
      • MA,
      • Department of Psychology,
      • Nagoya University,
      • 1983
  • Selected Publications

      • Zervakis, J., & Mazuka, R..
      • 2012.
      • Effect of repeated evaluation and repeated exposure on acceptability ratings of sentences.
      • Journal of Psycholinguistic Research
      • .
      • Bion, R., Miyazawa, K., Kikuchi, H., & Mazuka, R..
      • 2012.
      • Learning phonemic vowel length from naturalistic recordings of Japanese infant-directed speech.
      • PLos ONE
      • .
      • Tsuji, S., Gonzalez, G. N., Medina, V., Nazzi, T., & Mazuka, R..
      • 2012.
      • The labial-coronal effect revisited: Japanese adults say pata, but hear tapa.
      • Cognition
      • 125:
      • 413-428.
      • .
      • Nakamura, C., Arai, M., & Mazuka, R..
      • 2012.
      • Immediate use of prosody and context in predicting a syntactic structure.
      • Cognition
      • 125:
      • 413-428
      • .
      • Ito, K., Jincho, N., Minai, U., Yamane, N., & Mazuka, R.
      • 2012.
      • Intonation facilitates contrast resolution: Evidence from Japanese adults and 6-year olds.
      • Journal of Memory and Language
      • 66:
      • 265-284
      • .
      • Sato, Y., Kato, M., & Mazuka, R.
      • 2012.
      • Development of single/geminate obstruent discrimination by Japanese infants: Early integration of durational and non-durational cues.
      • Developmental Psychology
      • 48:
      • 18-34
      • .
      • Minai, U., Jincho, N., Yamane, N., & Mazuka, R.
      • 2012.
      • What hinders child semantic computation: Children's universal quantification and the development of cognitive control.
      • Journal of Child Language
      • 39:
      • 919-956
      • .
      • Mazuka, R., Cao, Y., Dupoux, E., & Christophe, A.
      • 2011.
      • The development of a phonological illusion: A cross-linguistic study with Japanese and French infants..
      • Developmental Science
      • 14:
      • 693-699
      • .
      • Minagawa-Kawai, Y., van der Lely, H., Ramus, F., Sato, Y., Mazuka, R., & Dupoux, E.
      • 2011.
      • Optical brain imaging reveals general auditory and language-specific processing in early infant development.
      • Cerebral Cortex
      • 21:
      • 254-261
      • .
      • Sato, Y., Mori, K., Koizumi, T., Minagawa-Kawai, Y., Tanaka, A., Ozawa, E., Wakaba, Y. & Mazuka, R.
      • 2011.
      • Functional lateralization of speech processing in adults and children who stutter.
      • Frontiers in Psychology: Language Sciences
      • 2:
      • 1-10
      • .
      • Yoshida, K.A., Iversen, J.R., Patel, A.D., Mazuka, R., Nito, H., Gervain, J., & Werker, J.F.
      • 2010.
      • The development of perceptual grouping biases in infancy: A Japanese-English cross-linguistic study.
      • Cognition
      • 115:
      • 356-361
      • .
      • Matsuda, Y-T., Ueno, K.-I., Waggoner, A., R, , Erickson, D., Shimura, Y., Tanaka, K., Cheng, K., & Mazuka, R.
      • 2010.
      • Processing of infant-directed speech by adults.
      • NeuroImage
      • 54:
      • 611-621
      • .
      • Sato, Y., Sogabe, Y., & Mazuka, R.
      • 2010.
      • Development of hemispheric specialization for lexical pitch-accent in Japanese infants.
      • Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
      • 22:
      • 2503-2513
      • .
      Publication Description

      Infants’ speech perception abilities change through the first year of life, from broad sensitivity to a wide range of speech contrasts to becoming more finely attuned to their native language. What remains unclear, however, is how this perceptual change relates to brain responses to native language contrasts in terms of the functional specialization of the left and right hemispheres. Here, to elucidate the developmental changes in functional lateralization accompanying this perceptual change, we conducted two experiments on Japanese infants using Japanese lexical pitch-accent, which changes word meanings with the pitch pattern within words. In the first behavioral experiment, using visual habituation, we confirmed that infants at both 4 and 10 months have sensitivities to the lexical pitch-accent pattern change embedded in disyllabic words. In the second experiment, near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) was used to measure cortical hemodynamic responses in the left and right hemispheres to the same lexical pitch-accent pattern changes and their pure-tone counterparts. We found that brain responses to the pitch change within words differed between 4- and 10-month-old infants in terms of functional lateralization: left-hemisphere dominance for the perception of the pitch change embedded in words was seen only in the 10-month-olds. These results suggest that the perceptual change in Japanese lexical pitch-accent may be related to a shift in functional lateralization from bilateral to left-hemisphere dominance.

      • Sato, Y., Sogave, Y., & Mazuka, R..
      • 2010.
      • Discrimination of phonemic vowel length by Japanese infants.
      • Developmental Psychology
      • 46:
      • 106-199
      • .
      Publication Description

      Japanese has a vowel duration contrast as one component of its language-specific phonemic repertory to distinguish word meanings. It is not clear, however, how a sensitivity to vowel duration can develop in a linguistic context. The present study evaluated infants’ abilities to discriminate Japanese long and short vowels embedded in two-syllable words (/mana/ vs. /ma:na/), using the visual habituation-dishabituation method. The results revealed that 4- (n = 32) and 7.5-month old Japanese infants (n = 33) failed to discriminate the contrast (p = .676, .275, respectively), whereas 9.5-month old group (n = 33) showed the discrimination ability (p = .014). By contrast, the 4-month old group (n = 24) showed sensitivity to a vowel quality change (/mana/ vs. /mina/) (p = .034). These results indicate that Japanese infants acquire sensitivity to long/short vowel contrasts between 7.5- and 9.5-months of age, and that the developmental course of the phonemic category by the durational changes is different from that by the quality change.

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  • PhD Students

    • Youngon Choi
      • 2003

Departmental Administrators

Huettel, Scott A
Associate Chair
Marsh, Elizabeth

Assistant to the Chair   
Morrell, Peggy     

Director of Undergraduate Studies   
Murphy, Karen L
Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies    
Vieth, Angela
Assistant to Director of Undergraduate Studies      
Silva Harwood, Natalia M
Director of Graduate Studies
Bonner, Melanie
Assistant to Director of Graduate Studies
Smith, Pamela D

Business Manager,
LaMaster, Cynthia

Reiko Mazuka
  • brain scan