This work was supported by the European Commission's 6th Framework Programme for “Information Society Technologies” (project title: EmCAP-Emergent Cognition through Active Perception, contract no.: 013123). The authors thank Prof. Dr. Zoltán Papp and Dr. János Rigó for supporting the study of neonates at the First Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Semmelweis University, Budapest, Hungary. We also thank RN Erika Józsa Váradiné for collecting the data.
Timbre-independent extraction of pitch in newborn infants
Article first published online: 25 NOV 2008
Copyright © 2008 Society for Psychophysiological Research
Volume 46, Issue 1, pages 69–74, January 2009
How to Cite
Háden, G. P., Stefanics, G., Vestergaard, M. D., Denham, S. L., Sziller, I. and Winkler, I. (2009), Timbre-independent extraction of pitch in newborn infants. Psychophysiology, 46: 69–74. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.2008.00749.x
- Issue published online: 23 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 25 NOV 2008
- (Received February 14, 2008; Accepted April 18, 2008)
- Pitch processing;
- Perceived resonator size;
- Event-related brain potentials (ERP);
- mismatch negativity (MMN)
The ability to separate pitch from other spectral sound features, such as timbre, is an important prerequisite of veridical auditory perception underlying speech acquisition and music cognition. The current study investigated whether or not newborn infants generalize pitch across different timbres. Perceived resonator size is an aspect of timbre that informs the listener about the size of the sound source, a cue that may be important already at birth. Therefore, detection of infrequent pitch changes was tested by recording event-related brain potentials in healthy newborn infants to frequent standard and infrequent pitch-deviant sounds while the perceived resonator size of all sounds was randomly varied. The elicitation of an early negative and a later positive discriminative response by deviant sounds demonstrated that the neonate auditory system represents pitch separately from timbre, thus showing advanced pitch processing capabilities.