Fundamental frequency influences vowel discrimination in 6-month-old infants
AbstractThe effects of a female fundamental frequency (F0) on the discrimination of two vowel tokens, /i/ and /I/, both known to be discriminable to very young infants were investigated. Three different F0 were examined: the low steady F0 of the typical female voice in adult-directed speech, 250 Hz; the F0 more typical in speech directed to infants, 350 Hz; and a falling F0 reminiscent of infant-directed pitch contours, 350-250 Hz. Discrimination of the tokens for 6-month-olds is possible when the F0 is 250 Hz, and when falling, but only when /I/ is the background token. However, with a high steady F0, infants perform at chance suggesting that they are unable to discriminate the two vowels.
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