Development of Subcortical Pitch Representation in Three-Month-Old Chinese Infants

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Abstract

This study investigated the development of subcortical pitch processing, as reflected by the scalp-recorded frequency-following response, during early infancy. Thirteen Chinese infants who were born and raised in Mandarin-speaking households were recruited to partake in this study. Through a prospective-longitudinal study design, infants were tested twice: at 1–3 days after birth and at three months of age. A set of four contrastive Mandarin pitch contours were used to elicit frequency-following responses. Frequency Error and Pitch Strength were derived to represent the accuracy and magnitude of the elicited responses. Paired-samples t tests were conducted and demonstrated a significant decrease in Frequency Error and a significant increase in Pitch Strength at three months of age compared to 1–3 days after birth. Results indicated the developmental trajectory of subcortical pitch processing during the first three months of life.

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