Selective tuning of cortical sound-feature processing by language experience

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Abstract

In ‘quantity-languages’, such as Japanese or Finnish, sound duration is linguistically relevant. We showed that quantity-language speakers were superior to speakers of a non-quantity language in discriminating the duration of even non-speech sounds. In contrast, there was no group difference in the discrimination of sound frequency. This result, obtained both by behavioural and neural indices at attentive and automatic levels of processing, indicates precise feature-specific tuning of the auditory-cortex functions by the mother tongue.

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