A tonal-language benefit for pitch in normally-hearing and cochlear-implanted children

Mickael L.D. Deroche, Hui Ping Lu, Aditya M. Kulkarni, Meredith Caldwell, Karen C. Barrett, Shu Chen Peng, Charles J. Limb, Yung Song Lin, Monita Chatterjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

In tonal languages, voice pitch inflections change the meaning of words, such that the brain processes pitch not merely as an acoustic characterization of sound but as semantic information. In normally-hearing (NH) adults, this linguistic pressure on pitch appears to sharpen its neural encoding and can lead to perceptual benefits, depending on the task relevance, potentially generalizing outside of the speech domain. In children, however, linguistic systems are still malleable, meaning that their encoding of voice pitch information might not receive as much neural specialization but might generalize more easily to ecologically irrelevant pitch contours. This would seem particularly true for early-deafened children wearing a cochlear implant (CI), who must exhibit great adaptability to unfamiliar sounds as their sense of pitch is severely degraded. Here, we provide the first demonstration of a tonal language benefit in dynamic pitch sensitivity among NH children (using both a sweep discrimination and labelling task) which extends partially to children with CI (i.e., in the labelling task only). Strong age effects suggest that sensitivity to pitch contours reaches adult-like levels early in tonal language speakers (possibly before 6 years of age) but continues to develop in non-tonal language speakers well into the teenage years. Overall, we conclude that language-dependent neuroplasticity can enhance behavioral sensitivity to dynamic pitch, even in extreme cases of auditory degradation, but it is most easily observable early in life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

Fingerprint

Cochlea
Hearing
Language
Cochlear Implants
Linguistics
Neuronal Plasticity
Semantics
Acoustics
Pressure
Brain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Deroche, M. L. D., Lu, H. P., Kulkarni, A. M., Caldwell, M., Barrett, K. C., Peng, S. C., ... Chatterjee, M. (2019). A tonal-language benefit for pitch in normally-hearing and cochlear-implanted children. Scientific Reports, 9(1), [109]. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-36393-1

A tonal-language benefit for pitch in normally-hearing and cochlear-implanted children. / Deroche, Mickael L.D.; Lu, Hui Ping; Kulkarni, Aditya M.; Caldwell, Meredith; Barrett, Karen C.; Peng, Shu Chen; Limb, Charles J.; Lin, Yung Song; Chatterjee, Monita.

In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 9, No. 1, 109, 01.12.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Deroche, MLD, Lu, HP, Kulkarni, AM, Caldwell, M, Barrett, KC, Peng, SC, Limb, CJ, Lin, YS & Chatterjee, M 2019, 'A tonal-language benefit for pitch in normally-hearing and cochlear-implanted children', Scientific Reports, vol. 9, no. 1, 109. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-36393-1
Deroche MLD, Lu HP, Kulkarni AM, Caldwell M, Barrett KC, Peng SC et al. A tonal-language benefit for pitch in normally-hearing and cochlear-implanted children. Scientific Reports. 2019 Dec 1;9(1). 109. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-36393-1
Deroche, Mickael L.D. ; Lu, Hui Ping ; Kulkarni, Aditya M. ; Caldwell, Meredith ; Barrett, Karen C. ; Peng, Shu Chen ; Limb, Charles J. ; Lin, Yung Song ; Chatterjee, Monita. / A tonal-language benefit for pitch in normally-hearing and cochlear-implanted children. In: Scientific Reports. 2019 ; Vol. 9, No. 1.
@article{5bc1efe54c32468f9ca877d4d844a5df,
title = "A tonal-language benefit for pitch in normally-hearing and cochlear-implanted children",
abstract = "In tonal languages, voice pitch inflections change the meaning of words, such that the brain processes pitch not merely as an acoustic characterization of sound but as semantic information. In normally-hearing (NH) adults, this linguistic pressure on pitch appears to sharpen its neural encoding and can lead to perceptual benefits, depending on the task relevance, potentially generalizing outside of the speech domain. In children, however, linguistic systems are still malleable, meaning that their encoding of voice pitch information might not receive as much neural specialization but might generalize more easily to ecologically irrelevant pitch contours. This would seem particularly true for early-deafened children wearing a cochlear implant (CI), who must exhibit great adaptability to unfamiliar sounds as their sense of pitch is severely degraded. Here, we provide the first demonstration of a tonal language benefit in dynamic pitch sensitivity among NH children (using both a sweep discrimination and labelling task) which extends partially to children with CI (i.e., in the labelling task only). Strong age effects suggest that sensitivity to pitch contours reaches adult-like levels early in tonal language speakers (possibly before 6 years of age) but continues to develop in non-tonal language speakers well into the teenage years. Overall, we conclude that language-dependent neuroplasticity can enhance behavioral sensitivity to dynamic pitch, even in extreme cases of auditory degradation, but it is most easily observable early in life.",
author = "Deroche, {Mickael L.D.} and Lu, {Hui Ping} and Kulkarni, {Aditya M.} and Meredith Caldwell and Barrett, {Karen C.} and Peng, {Shu Chen} and Limb, {Charles J.} and Lin, {Yung Song} and Monita Chatterjee",
year = "2019",
month = "12",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1038/s41598-018-36393-1",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "9",
journal = "Scientific Reports",
issn = "2045-2322",
publisher = "Nature Publishing Group",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A tonal-language benefit for pitch in normally-hearing and cochlear-implanted children

AU - Deroche, Mickael L.D.

AU - Lu, Hui Ping

AU - Kulkarni, Aditya M.

AU - Caldwell, Meredith

AU - Barrett, Karen C.

AU - Peng, Shu Chen

AU - Limb, Charles J.

AU - Lin, Yung Song

AU - Chatterjee, Monita

PY - 2019/12/1

Y1 - 2019/12/1

N2 - In tonal languages, voice pitch inflections change the meaning of words, such that the brain processes pitch not merely as an acoustic characterization of sound but as semantic information. In normally-hearing (NH) adults, this linguistic pressure on pitch appears to sharpen its neural encoding and can lead to perceptual benefits, depending on the task relevance, potentially generalizing outside of the speech domain. In children, however, linguistic systems are still malleable, meaning that their encoding of voice pitch information might not receive as much neural specialization but might generalize more easily to ecologically irrelevant pitch contours. This would seem particularly true for early-deafened children wearing a cochlear implant (CI), who must exhibit great adaptability to unfamiliar sounds as their sense of pitch is severely degraded. Here, we provide the first demonstration of a tonal language benefit in dynamic pitch sensitivity among NH children (using both a sweep discrimination and labelling task) which extends partially to children with CI (i.e., in the labelling task only). Strong age effects suggest that sensitivity to pitch contours reaches adult-like levels early in tonal language speakers (possibly before 6 years of age) but continues to develop in non-tonal language speakers well into the teenage years. Overall, we conclude that language-dependent neuroplasticity can enhance behavioral sensitivity to dynamic pitch, even in extreme cases of auditory degradation, but it is most easily observable early in life.

AB - In tonal languages, voice pitch inflections change the meaning of words, such that the brain processes pitch not merely as an acoustic characterization of sound but as semantic information. In normally-hearing (NH) adults, this linguistic pressure on pitch appears to sharpen its neural encoding and can lead to perceptual benefits, depending on the task relevance, potentially generalizing outside of the speech domain. In children, however, linguistic systems are still malleable, meaning that their encoding of voice pitch information might not receive as much neural specialization but might generalize more easily to ecologically irrelevant pitch contours. This would seem particularly true for early-deafened children wearing a cochlear implant (CI), who must exhibit great adaptability to unfamiliar sounds as their sense of pitch is severely degraded. Here, we provide the first demonstration of a tonal language benefit in dynamic pitch sensitivity among NH children (using both a sweep discrimination and labelling task) which extends partially to children with CI (i.e., in the labelling task only). Strong age effects suggest that sensitivity to pitch contours reaches adult-like levels early in tonal language speakers (possibly before 6 years of age) but continues to develop in non-tonal language speakers well into the teenage years. Overall, we conclude that language-dependent neuroplasticity can enhance behavioral sensitivity to dynamic pitch, even in extreme cases of auditory degradation, but it is most easily observable early in life.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85060020612&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85060020612&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1038/s41598-018-36393-1

DO - 10.1038/s41598-018-36393-1

M3 - Article

VL - 9

JO - Scientific Reports

JF - Scientific Reports

SN - 2045-2322

IS - 1

M1 - 109

ER -