Poster C44, Sunday, March 25, 1:00-3:00 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Testing native language neural commitment at the brainstem level: A cross-linguistic investigation of the association between frequency-following response and speech perception
Luodi Yu1, Yang Zhang1; 1Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, USA
A topic of current interest in auditory neurophysiology is how brainstem sensory coding contributes to higher-level perceptual, linguistic and cognitive skills. The present cross-language study was designed to compare tonal (Chinese) (N = 17) and non-tonal (English) (N = 19) language users and examine the correlation between FFR and behavior as a function of language experience. Frequency following responses (FFRs) were measured to examine experience-dependent tuning effect in relation to behavioral perceptual tasks which assessed how lexical tones may interfere with vowel category and duration judgement. The FFR results replicated previous findings about cross-language differences, showing enhanced pitch tracking strength and accuracy at the brainstem level in the Chinese group in comparison with the English group. The behavioral data showed that lexical tone variation in the vowel stimuli significantly interfered with vowel identification in both subject groups with a greater effect in the Chinese group. Moreover, neural phase-locking measured by the FFR pitch tracking strength for the lexical tone stimuli was significantly correlated with the behavioral interference effect only in the Chinese group. This pattern of language-specific link between brainstem encoding of fundamental frequency and speech perception provides supporting evidence for a possible native language neural commitment (NLNC) at the subcortical level, highlighting the role of experience-dependent brainstem tuning in influencing subsequent linguistic processing in the adult brain.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other