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Keywords:

  • Auditory;
  • Children;
  • Event-related brain potentials;
  • ICA;
  • Maturation;
  • Speech

Abstract

We examined maturation of speech-sound-related indices of auditory event-related brain potentials (ERPs). ERPs were elicited by syllables and nonphonetic correlates in children and adults. Compared with syllables, nonphonetic stimuli elicited larger N1 and P2 in adults and P1 in children. Because the nonphonetics were more perceptually salient, this N1 effect was consistent with known N1 sensitivity to sound onset features. Based on stimulus dependence and independent component structure, children's P1 appeared to contain overlapping P2-like activity. In both subject groups, syllables elicited larger N2/N4 peaks. This might reflect sound content feature processing, more extensive for speech than nonspeech sounds. Therefore, sound detection mechanisms (N1, P2) still develop whereas sound content processing (N2, N4) is largely mature during mid-childhood; in children and adults, speech sounds are processed more extensively than nonspeech sounds 200–400 ms poststimulus.