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ERIC Number: EJ852434
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Sep
Pages: 14
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0093-934X
The Role of the Auditory Brainstem in Processing Linguistically-Relevant Pitch Patterns
Krishnan, Ananthanarayan; Gandour, Jackson T.
Brain and Language, v110 n3 p135-148 Sep 2009
Historically, the brainstem has been neglected as a part of the brain involved in language processing. We review recent evidence of language-dependent effects in pitch processing based on comparisons of native vs. nonnative speakers of a tonal language from electrophysiological recordings in the auditory brainstem. We argue that there is enhancing of linguistically-relevant pitch dimensions or features well before the auditory signal reaches the cerebral cortex. We propose that long-term experience with a tone language sharpens the tuning characteristics of neurons along the pitch axis with enhanced sensitivity to linguistically-relevant, rapidly changing sections of pitch contours. Though not specific to a speech context, experience-dependent brainstem mechanisms for pitch representation are clearly sensitive to particular aspects of pitch contours that native speakers of a tone language have been exposed to. Such experience-dependent effects on lower-level sensory processing are compatible with more integrated, hierarchically organized pathways to language and the brain. (Contains 8 figures.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A