Six-month-old infants prefer speech with raised formant frequencies

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Abstract

Voices can be characterized by their fundamental frequency as well as by speech timbre characteristics, such as formant frequencies. While infants' responses to fundamental frequency characteristics are well established, very little is known about how infants respond to changes in formant frequencies. This study tested whether 6-month-old infants prefer listening to speech with raised formant frequencies over speech with lowered formant frequencies. Naturally spoken utterances were acoustically manipulated to render raised-formant and lowered-formant stimuli that only differed in the formant frequencies, while keeping fundamental frequency and other acoustic characteristics constant. Infants in an infant-controlled listening procedure listened longer to the raised-formant than to the lowered-formant stimuli. These results provide the first evidence that infants distinguish and show preferences for variations in formant frequencies in adult speech.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)778-789
Number of pages12
JournalInfancy
Volume22
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

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