Effect of infant bilingualism on audiovisual integration in a McGurk task

Mercure, Evelyne; Bright, Peter; Quiroz, Isabel and Filippi, Roberto. 2022. Effect of infant bilingualism on audiovisual integration in a McGurk task. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 217, 105351. ISSN 0022-0965 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Infants growing up in an environment where more than one language is spoken tend to follow the early milestones of early language development. This is an impressive achievement given that they are learning two languages while receiving reduced exposure to each of these languages compared with monolingual infants. This increased variability in their linguistic environment may lead to adjustments in the way bilingual infants process visual and auditory speech. This study aimed to clarify the influence of infant bilingualism on the development of audiovisual speech integration. Using eye tracking and a McGurk paradigm, we studied face scanning patterns when 7- to 10-month-old infants were viewing articulation of audiovisually congruent and incongruent syllables. We found that monolingual infants decreased their attention to the mouth and increased their attention to the eyes of speaking faces when presented with incongruent articulation, typically leading to the McGurk illusion during adulthood. In bilingual infants, no differences in face scanning patterns were observed between audiovisually congruent and incongruent articulation, suggesting that the increased variability in their speech experience may lead to more tolerance to articulatory inconsistencies. These results suggest that the development of audiovisual speech perception is influenced by infants’ language environment.

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This study was funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme grant (SG162171) to R.F. and P.B. E.M. was funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Future Research Leader fellowship (ES/K001329/1).


Bilingual, Speech, Multisensory, Audiovisual, Language development, McGurk

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10 December 2021Accepted
29 January 2022Published Online
May 2022Published

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Date Deposited:

03 Feb 2022 10:12

Last Modified:

03 Feb 2022 10:13

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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