Title

Neural Pitch Coding in Multi-lingual Population: Language Effect

Poster Number

9a

Lead Author Affiliation

Audiology

Lead Author Status

Doctoral Student

Second Author Affiliation

Audiology

Second Author Status

Doctoral Student

Third Author Affiliation

Audiology

Third Author Status

Doctoral Student

Fourth Author Affiliation

Audiology

Fourth Author Status

Faculty

Introduction

Previous studies have shown that adults who speak tonal language such as Mandarin Chinese show stronger neural pitch coding ability at the brainstem level, compared to adults who speak non-tonal language such as English. Long-term auditory exposure to certain characters in those languages have been suggested to be the underline reason. At the same time, some behavioral studies have suggested that people who speak multiple languages are thought to process certain auditory features better than monolingual adults. The question that is it the multilingualism or is it certain language that (re)shapes the auditory brainstem remains unanswered.

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of multilingualism on adults’ pitch processing ability.

Method

Three language groups were recruited in this study: 1) monolingual adults who speak only American English, 2) bilingual adults who speak English and a tonal language and 3) bilingual adults who speak English and a non-tonal language. They all had normal audiometric test results as well as normal supra-threshold click-evoked ABR. None of the subjects identified themselves as had long time music or auditory trainings. To obtain scalp recorded Frequency Following Response, two Mandarin Chinese syllables with different fundamental frequency pitch contours (Flat Tone and Falling Tone) were presented at 70 dB SPL. Fundamental frequencies (f0) of both the stimulus and the responses were extracted and compared to individual brainstem responses. Two indices were used to examine different aspects of pitch processing ability at the brainstem level: Pitch Strength and Pitch Correlation.

Results

Measured by Pitch Strength and Pitch Correlation, lexical tone elicited FFR was found to be stronger in bilingual tonal language speakers, compared to both monolingual speakers and bilingual non-tonal language speakers. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the monolingual group and bilingual non-tonal group.

Significance

Results of this study demonstrated that pitch processing ability at the brainstem level is primarily influenced by specific auditory features in the languages that they speak, not the number of languages they speak. Furthermore, comparable FFR results obtained from both mono-lingual and non-tonal bilingual speakers group suggest that although behaviorally bilingualism or multilingualism could show some differences in certain tests or assessment, they likely did not affect speakers’ pitch processing mechanism, at least not reflected by auditory electrophysiological tests such as FFR. Future directions include examine effect of bilingualism that consists different tonal languages, such as Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese Chinese.

Location

DeRosa University Center

Format

Poster Presentation

Poster Session

Morning 10am-12pm

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Apr 28th, 10:00 AM Apr 28th, 12:00 PM

Neural Pitch Coding in Multi-lingual Population: Language Effect

DeRosa University Center

Previous studies have shown that adults who speak tonal language such as Mandarin Chinese show stronger neural pitch coding ability at the brainstem level, compared to adults who speak non-tonal language such as English. Long-term auditory exposure to certain characters in those languages have been suggested to be the underline reason. At the same time, some behavioral studies have suggested that people who speak multiple languages are thought to process certain auditory features better than monolingual adults. The question that is it the multilingualism or is it certain language that (re)shapes the auditory brainstem remains unanswered.