By the sound of it: an ERP investigation of human action sound processing in 7-month-old infants

Elena Geangu, Ermanno Quadrelli, James W. Lewis, Viola Macchi Cassia, Chiara Turati

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Recent evidence suggests that human adults perceive human action sounds as a distinct category from human vocalizations, environmental, and mechanical sounds, activating different neural networks (Engel et al., 2009 and Lewis et al., 2011). Yet, little is known about the development of such specialization. Using event-related potentials (ERP), this study investigated neural correlates of 7-month-olds’ processing of human action (HA) sounds in comparison to human vocalizations (HV), environmental (ENV), and mechanical (MEC) sounds. Relative to the other categories, HA sounds led to increased positive amplitudes between 470 and 570 ms post-stimulus onset at left anterior temporal locations, while HV led to increased negative amplitudes at the more posterior temporal locations in both hemispheres. Collectively, human produced sounds (HA + HV) led to significantly different response profiles compared to non-living sound sources (ENV + MEC) at parietal and frontal locations in both hemispheres. Overall, by 7 months of age human action sounds are being differentially processed in the brain, consistent with a dichotomy for processing living versus non-living things. This provides novel evidence regarding the typical categorical processing of socially relevant sounds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-144
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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