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Brain Method to Forecast Infants’ Future Language Development

Project Quick Facts

Principal Investigator

  • Prof. WONG Chun Man Patrick

    Department of Linguistics and Modern Languages

  • Prof. LEUNG Ting Fan

    Department of Paediatrics

  • Prof. LAM Hung San Hugh Simon

    Department of Paediatrics

  • Funding

    Innovation and Technology Commission

The project has developed a test to predict infants’ future language ability by electroencephalography (EEG). With EEG, a method is then devised to forecast language developmental outcomes. By intervening at the earliest possible time, the severity of potential language impairment will be reduced and provide optimised language learning for all children.The predictive models this project constructed using neural measures substantially outperformed models constructed using traditional clinical factors such as birth weight and gestational age.

With early intervention, language can be improved, as the nervous system is at its most plastic in the early years. Interventions that are delivered early have higher economic returns than those administered later in life.

Prof. Wong said that the test can now be applied to Cantonese and Mandarin speaking communities, while the research team is studying the accuracy of the test on English language development.
Prof. Leung said that most babies can take the EEG test once they are born, which allows parents to learn about their children’s potential language problems one to two years earlier than the traditional method.
Ms. Chow’s daughter conducts the EEG test at CUHK Brain and Mind Institute.

Uniqueness and Competitive Advantages:

  • The way how infant’s central nervous system encodes and differentiates speech sounds may effectively predict the language development
  • A simple EEG test is the most suitable method for infants with no speaking abilities
  • Precise enough to make prediction about an individual child’s development

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