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Poster E11, Saturday, August 18, 3:00 – 4:45 pm, Room 2000AB

The Development of Mismatch Response to Vowels and Initial Consonants from birth to 24 Months

Ying-Ying Cheng1, Chia-Ying Lee1;1Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Mandarin Chinese has relatively simple syllable structure, in which a vowel and a lexical tone are compulsory whereas an initial or a final consonant are optional. Mandarin-speaking children master the vowel production by 3 years of age, but their production of initial consonants does not stabilize until 5 to 6 years. This developmental trajectory supports the phonological saliency hypothesis, which suggests phonological units carry higher saliency should be acquired earlier than less salient ones. The current study examines whether the development of mismatch responses (MMRs) in infancy supports the phonological saliency hypothesis. MMRs to Mandarin vowel and initial consonant contrasts were measured independently by the multi-deviant oddball paradigm in newborns and infants at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. For vowels, the large deviant “du” (back-high vowel) and the small deviant “di” (front-high vowel) were compared with the standard “da” (front-low vowel). The large deviant du/da contrast elicited a broad positive mismatch response (P-MMR) in newborns whereas mismatch negativities (MMNs) at 6, 18 and 24 months. The small deviant di/da contrast elicited P-MMRs in newborns, at 6 and 12 months, whereas MMNs at 18 and 24 months. As for initial consonants, the large deviant “ga” (VOT=23 ms) and the small deviant “da” (VOT=11 ms) were compared with the standard “ba” (VOT=10 ms). The large deviant ga/ba contrast elicited P-MMRs in newborns, at 6, 12, and 18 months than transitioned to an MMN at 24 months. The small deviant da/ba contrast elicited P-MMRs in newborns, at 6, 12, and 24 months. In summary, MMRs to vowels transition from less mature P-MMR to adult-like MMN at a younger age than MMRs to initial consonants do. Also, MMRs to the large deviant transition from P-MMR to MMN at an earlier age than that to the small deviant does. The developmental trajectories of MMRs support the phonological saliency hypothesis.

Topic Area: Perception: Speech Perception and Audiovisual Integration