Central Auditory Processing of Durational Changes in Complex Speech Patterns by Newborns: An Event-Related Brain Potential Study

Cognitive Brain Research Unit, Department of Psychology, P.O. Box 13, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland.
Developmental Neuropsychology (Impact Factor: 2.24). 02/2001; 19(1):83-97. DOI: 10.1207/S15326942DN1901_6
Source: PubMed


In this study, newborns' ability to discriminate durational changes in the fricative /s/ within a nonsense word was investigated. The results showed that infrequent increments and decrements of a speech sound duration elicit a mismatch negativity kind of response in sleeping human newborns. In the auditory event-related potential to these deviant stimuli two negative waves of this response were revealed. The first negative wave peaked at about 150 msec and the second at about 350 msec after the change onset. At least one negative deflection, which was interpreted as evidence for stimulus change-detection, was observed in every infant.

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Available from: Elena Kushnerenko
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    • "Kushnerenko et al. (2001b) showed that infants aged 2–6 days are sensitive to increases in tone duration, evident in changes in their N2 responses. Also, Kushnerenko et al. (2001a) found that neonates are able to discriminate duration changes in speech sounds, demonstrated by a negative inflection in their ERP wave. Winkler et al. (2009b) obtained an MMR to violations at the downbeat of a rhythmic sound pattern in newborn infants. "
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    ABSTRACT: Correctly processing rapid sequences of sounds is essential for developmental milestones, such as language acquisition. We investigated the sensitivity of two-month-old infants to violations of a temporal regularity, by recording event-related brain potentials (ERP) in an auditory oddball paradigm from 36 waking and 40 sleeping infants. Standard tones were presented at a regular 300ms inter-stimulus interval (ISI). One deviant, otherwise identical to the standard, was preceded by a 100ms ISI. Two other deviants, presented with the standard ISI, differed from the standard in their spectral makeup. We found significant differences between ERP responses elicited by the standard and each of the deviant sounds. The results suggest that the ability to extract both temporal and spectral regularities from a sound sequence is already functional within the first few months of life. The scalp distribution of all three deviant-stimulus responses was influenced by the infants' state of alertness.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2012 · Biological Psychology
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    • "Non-vocal stimuli are usually presented for 50–400 msec, at a volume of 50–80 dB. Vocal or speech stimuli in infant studies include syllables (Dehaene-Lambertz & Dehaene, 1994), known or unknown words (Friedrich & Friederici, 2004a; Grossmann et al., 2005), pseudo-words (Friederici et al., 2007; Kushnerenko et al., 2001b; Teinonen et al., 2009; Weber et al., 2004), and sentences (Männel & Friederici, 2009). Depending on the study's aim the stimuli are varied in stress, prosody or number of syllables and are presented mostly for 300–1,000 msec at a volume of about 65–70 dB. "
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    ABSTRACT: Researchers from different backgrounds have an increasing interest in investigating infant cognitive development using electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings. Although EEG measurements are suitable for infants, the method poses several challenges including setting up an infant-friendly, but interference-free lab environment and designing age-appropriate stimuli and paradigms. Certain specifics of infant EEG data have to be considered when deriving event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate cognitive processes in the developing brain. The present article summarizes the practical aspects of conducting ERP research with infants and describes how researchers typically deal with the specific challenges entailed in this work.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2012 · Developmental Neuropsychology
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    • "Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is an imaging technique that has been employed for clinical purposes (Wolf et al., 2007) and more recently in cognitive research as well. It is regarded as one of the most appropriate to study language faculties and cognitive capacities in the newborn's brain (see Aslin and Mehler, 2005; Minagawa-Kawai et al., 2008; Lloyd-Fox et al., 2010; Obrig et al., 2010, for reviews on fNIRS developmental studies, but see also Dehaene-Lambertz and Peña, 2001; Kushnerenko et al., 2001; Cheour et al., 2002, 2004; Imada et al., 2006, for examples of language studies in newborns using magnetoencephalography and electroencephalography). fNIRS is non-invasive, and there is no need to use any substance, not even to keep the device in place on the infant's head. It is ideal to study how neonates process auditory stimuli because the device makes hardly any noise. "
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    ABSTRACT: The measurement of newborns' brain hemodynamic activity has improved our understanding of early cognitive processes, in particular of language acquisition. In this paper, we describe two experimental protocols adapted to study neonates' speech-processing capacities using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS): the block design and the familiarization-recognition design. We review some of their benefits and disadvantages, and refer to research issues that can be explored by means of these protocols. We also illustrate the use of the two experimental designs through representative fNIRS studies that reveal specific patterns of activation of the newborn brain during speech perception, learning of repetition structures, and word recognition.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2011 · Frontiers in Psychology
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