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Subcortical neural representation to Mandarin pitch contours in American and Chinese newborns
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Voice pitch carries important information for speech understanding. This study examines the neural representation of voice pitch at the subcortical level, as reflected by the scalp-recorded frequency-following responses from ten American and ten Chinese newborns. By utilizing a set of four distinctive Mandarin pitch contours that mimic the English vowel /yi/, the results indicate that the rising and dipping pitch contours produce significantly better tracking accuracy and larger response amplitudes than the falling pitch contour. This finding suggests a hierarchy of potential stimuli when testing neonates who are born in a tonal or non-tonal linguistic environment.
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