Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: July 01, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963985 | Print ISBN: 9781412937207 | Online ISBN: 9781412963985| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Critical Period Hypothesis
A critical period refers to a limited time within which an event can occur. A critical period hypothesis suggests that there is a point in time after which a given transformation will not occur or will occur only after tremendous effort, if necessary stimuli are withheld. A famous example of this in the field of ethology is the research of Konrad Lorenz on the domestication of the Greylag goose. Lorenz discovered that goslings would learn the characteristics and follow the first suitable moving stimulus they saw within a critical period of 36 hours. Neurologists first attempted to document the relationship between the development of the brain and the process of language acquisition. Wilder Penfield and Lamar Roberts first introduced the idea of a critical period in the neurolinguistic literature, with their findings that children with significant brain damage from injury or disease were better able to relearn language than were ...