Linda Polka

McGill University

Beatty Hall
1266 Pine Avenue West
Montreal, QC H3G 1A8


Speech perception; infant development; bilingualism; phonetic perception; developmental psycholinguistics

My research focuses the development of speech perception during infancy. The goal of this work is to understand the skills and biases that the infants bring to this task and how their speech processing changes with age and language experience to support language processing. In my lab we are currently engaged in perception and production research to test, refine and expand the Natural Referent Vowel (NRV) model, a conceptual framework emerging from our previous developmental cross-linguistic research. We are also pursing research exploring the effects of bilingualism on various levels of speech processing including segmental (phonetic perception) and suprasegmental aspects (e.g. word segmentation, language discrimination and listening preferences in fluent speech) in infants and adults. My research expertise also includes work on the identification and assessment of hearing loss in infants. Bridging basic and clinical domains, I am also interested in research that can improve our ability to use speech perception measures to identify infants who are at risk for language delay or disorder.

Selected Publications

Nazzi, T., Goyet, L., Sundara, M. & Polka, L. (in press). Différences linguistiques et dialectales dans la mise en place des procédures de segmentation de la parole. Enfance.

Polka, L. & Bohn, O-S. (2011). Natural Referent Vowel (NRV) framework: An emerging view of early phonetic development. Journal of Phonetics. 39, pp. 467-478.

Best, C., Bradlow, A., Guion, S. & Polka, L. (2011). Using the lens of phonetic experience to resolve phonological forms. Journal of Phonetics. 39, pp. 453-455.

Polka, L. & Sundara, M. (2011). Word segmentation in monolingual infants acquiring Canadian English and Canadian French: Native language, cross-language and cross-dialect comparisons. Infancy. 172, pp. 198-232.

Mattock, K., Polka, L., & Rvachew, S., & Krehm, M. (2009). The first steps in word learning are easier when the shoes fit: Comparing monolingual and bilingual infants. Developmental Science. 13(1), pp. 229-243.

Sundara, M., Polka, L. & Molnar, M. (2008). Development of coronal stop perception: Bilingual infants keep pace with their monolingual peers. Cognition. 108, pp. 232-242.

Polka, L. Rvachew, S. & Molnar, M. (2008). Speech perception by 6- to 8-month-olds in the presence of distracting sound. Infancy. 13(5), pp. 421-439.

Shahnaz, N., Miranda, T. & Polka, L. (2008). Multi-frequency tympanometry in neonatal intensive care unit & well babies. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. 19(5), pp. 392-418.

Rvachew, S. Alhaidary, A. Mattock, K. & Polka, L. (2008). Emergence of corner vowels in the babble produced by infants exposed to Canadian English or Canadian French. Journal of Phonetics. 36, pp. 564-577.

Polka, L, Rvachew, s. & Mattock, K. (2007). Experiential influenceson speech perception and production during infancy. E. Hoff & M. Shatz (Eds.) Handbook of Child Language Oxford: Blackwell.

Sundara, M., Polka, L., Genesee, F. (2006). Language experience facilitates discrimination of /d- ð/ in monolingual and bilingual acquisition of English. Cognition. 100, pp. 369-388.

Polka, L., Rvachew, S. (2005). The impact of otitis media with effusion on infant phonetic perception. Infancy. 8, pp. 101-117.

Polka, L. & Sundara, M. (2003). Word segmentation in monolingual and bilingual infant learners of English and French. Proceedings of the 15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences. Barcelona, Spain, pp. 1021-1024.

Polka, L., & Bohn, O-S. (2003). Asymmetries in vowel perception. Speech Communication. 41, pp. 221-231