Language acquisition in infants is driven by on-going neural plasticity that is acutely sensitive to environmental acoustic cues. Recent studies showed that attention-based experience with non-linguistic, temporally-modulated auditory stimuli sharpens cortical responses. A previous ERP study from this laboratory showed that interactive auditory experience via behavior-based feedback (AEx), over a 6-week period from 4- to 7-months-of-age, confers a processing advantage, compared to passive auditory exposure (PEx) or maturation alone (Naïve Control, NC). Here, we provide a follow-up investigation of the underlying neural oscillatory patterns in these three groups. In AEx infants, Standard stimuli with invariant frequency (STD) elicited greater Theta-band (4–6 Hz) activity in Right Auditory Cortex (RAC), as compared to NC infants, and Deviant stimuli with rapid frequency change (DEV) elicited larger responses in Left Auditory Cortex (LAC). PEx and NC counterparts showed less-mature bilateral patterns. AEx infants also displayed stronger Gamma (33–37 Hz) activity in the LAC during DEV discrimination, compared to NCs, while NC and PEx groups demonstrated bilateral activity in this band, if at all. This suggests that interactive acoustic experience with non-linguistic stimuli can promote a distinct, robust and precise cortical pattern during rapid auditory processing, perhaps reflecting mechanisms that support fine-tuning of early acoustic mapping.
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Musacchia, Gabriella; Ortiz-Mantilla, Silvia; Choudhury, Naseem; Realpe-Bonilla, Teresa; Roesler, Cynthia P.; and Benasich, April A., "Active auditory experience in infancy promotes brain plasticity in Theta and Gamma oscillations" (2017). All Faculty Scholarship. 126.
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