Infants’ Processing of Prosodic Cues

  • Infants as young as six months are sensitive to prosodic phrase boundaries marked by three acoustic cues: pitch change, final lengthening, and pause. Behavioral studies suggest that a language-specific weighting of these cues develops during the first year of life; recent work on German revealed that eight-month-olds, unlike six-month-olds, are capable of perceiving a prosodic boundary on the basis of pitch change and final lengthening only. The present study uses Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) to investigate the neuro-cognitive development of prosodic cue perception in German-learning infants. In adults’ ERPs, prosodic boundary perception is clearly reflected by the so-called Closure Positive Shift (CPS). To date, there is mixed evidence on whether an infant CPS exists that signals early prosodic cue perception, or whether the CPS emerges only later—the latter implying that infantile brain responses to prosodic boundaries reflect acoustic, low-level pause detection. We presented six- and eight-month-olds with stimuli containingInfants as young as six months are sensitive to prosodic phrase boundaries marked by three acoustic cues: pitch change, final lengthening, and pause. Behavioral studies suggest that a language-specific weighting of these cues develops during the first year of life; recent work on German revealed that eight-month-olds, unlike six-month-olds, are capable of perceiving a prosodic boundary on the basis of pitch change and final lengthening only. The present study uses Event-Related Potentials (ERPs) to investigate the neuro-cognitive development of prosodic cue perception in German-learning infants. In adults’ ERPs, prosodic boundary perception is clearly reflected by the so-called Closure Positive Shift (CPS). To date, there is mixed evidence on whether an infant CPS exists that signals early prosodic cue perception, or whether the CPS emerges only later—the latter implying that infantile brain responses to prosodic boundaries reflect acoustic, low-level pause detection. We presented six- and eight-month-olds with stimuli containing either no boundary cues, only a pitch cue, or a combination of both pitch change and final lengthening. For both age groups, responses to the former two conditions did not differ, while brain responses to prosodic boundaries cued by pitch change and final lengthening showed a positivity that we interpret as a CPS-like infant ERP component. This hints at an early sensitivity to prosodic boundaries that cannot exclusively be based on pause detection. Instead, infants’ brain responses indicate an early ability to exploit subtle, relational prosodic cues in speech perception—presumably even earlier than could be concluded from previous behavioral results.show moreshow less

Export metadata

Additional Services

Share in Twitter Search Google Scholar Statistics
Metadaten
Author details:Julia Holzgrefe-LangGND, Caroline WellmannORCiD, Barbara HöhleORCiDGND, Isabell WartenburgerORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0023830917730590
ISSN:0023-8309
ISSN:1756-6053
Pubmed ID:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=28937300
Title of parent work (English):Language and speech
Subtitle (English):Electrophysiological Evidence for Boundary Perception beyond Pause Detection
Publisher:Sage Publ.
Place of publishing:London
Publication type:Article
Language:English
Date of first publication:2018/03/01
Completion year:2018
Release date:2022/01/14
Tag:Language acquisition; event-related potentials; prosodic boundary cues; prosody processing; speech perception
Volume:61
Issue:1
Number of pages:17
First page:153
Last Page:169
Funding institution:German Science Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG)German Research Foundation (DFG) [SPP 1234, FR 2865/2-1, HO 1960/13-1]
Organizational units:Humanwissenschaftliche Fakultät / Strukturbereich Kognitionswissenschaften / Department Linguistik
DDC classification:4 Sprache / 41 Linguistik / 410 Linguistik
Peer review:Referiert
Publishing method:Open Access / Bronze Open-Access
Einverstanden ✔
Diese Webseite verwendet technisch erforderliche Session-Cookies. Durch die weitere Nutzung der Webseite stimmen Sie diesem zu. Unsere Datenschutzerklärung finden Sie hier.