An electrophysiological study of infants' sensitivity to the sound patterns of English speech

Valerie L. Shafer, David W. Shucard, Janet L. Shucard, Lou Ann Gerken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

79 Scopus citations

Abstract

The study explores 10- to 11-month-old infants' sensitivity to the phonological characteristics of their native language. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were obtained for tones that were superimposed on two versions of a story: an Unmodified version containing normal English function morphemes, and a Modified version in which the prosodic and segmental properties of a subset of function morphemes were changed to make them atypical. The 11-month-olds exhibited significantly lower amplitude ERPs to the tones during the Modified story than to the Unmodified story, whereas the 10-month-olds showed no differences. These results suggest that the 11- month-olds discriminated the two versions of the story based on their representations of the phonological properties of English. Further, the tone- probe ERP method can successfully be used to study the development of speech perception in the pre-linguistic infant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)874-886
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1998

Keywords

  • Event-related potentials (ERPs)
  • Infants
  • Language development
  • Prosody

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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