The acquisition of new skills over a life span is a remarkable human ability. This ability, however, is constrained by age of acquisition (AoA); that is, the age at which learning occurs significantly affects the outcome. This is most clearly reflected in domains such as language, music, and athletics. This article provides a perspective on the neural and computational mechanisms underlying AoA in language acquisition. The authors show how AoA modulates both monolingual lexical processing and bilingual language acquisition. They consider the conditions under which syntactic processing and semantic processing may be differentially sensitive to AoA effects in second-language acquisition. The authors conclude that AoA effects are pervasive and that the neural and computational mechanisms underlying learning and sensorimotor integration provide a general account of these effects.
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