Pitch perception in the first year of life: A comparison of lexical tones and musical pitch

A. Chen, Catherine Stevens, R.W.J. Kager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Pitch variation is pervasive in speech, regardless of the language to which infants are exposed. Lexical tone is influenced by general sensitivity to pitch. We examined whether the development in lexical tone perception may develop in parallel with perception of pitch in other cognitive domains namely music. Using a visual fixation paradigm, 100 and one 4- and 12-month-old Dutch infants were tested on their discrimination of Chinese rising and dipping lexical tones as well as comparable three-note musical pitch contours. The 4-month-old infants failed to show a discrimination effect in either condition, whereas the 12-month-old infants succeeded in both conditions. These results suggest that lexical tone perception may reflect and relate to general pitch perception abilities, which may serve as a basis for developing more complex language and musical skills.
Original languageEnglish
Article number297
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2017

Keywords

  • lexical tone
  • musical pitch
  • perception development
  • cross-domain cognition
  • infancy

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