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Lateralization development for prosodic processing (Pasquinelli et al., 2023)

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posted on 2023-03-21, 18:37 authored by Rennie Pasquinelli, Anne Michelle Tessier, Zachary Karas, Xiaosu Hu, Ioulia Kovelman

Purpose: The fine-tuning of linguistic prosody in later childhood is poorly understood, and its neurological processing is even less well studied. In particular, it is unknown if grammatical processing of prosody is left- or right-lateralized in childhood versus adulthood and how phonological working memory might modulate such lateralization. Furthermore, it is virtually unknown how prosody develops neurologically among children with cochlear implants (CIs).

Method: Normal-hearing (NH) children ages 6–12 years and NH adults ages 18–28 years completed a functional near-infrared spectroscopy neuroimaging task, during which they heard sentence pairs and judged whether the sentences did or did not differ in their overall prosody (declarative, question, with or without narrow focus). Children also completed standard measures of expressive and receptive language.

Results: Age group differences emerged; children exhibited stronger bilateral temporoparietal activity but reduced left frontal activation. Furthermore, children’s performance on a nonword repetition test was significantly associated with activation in the left inferior frontal gyrus—an area that was generally more activated in adults than in children.

Conclusions: The prosody-related findings are generally consistent with prior neurodevelopmental works on sentence comprehension, especially those involving syntax and semantics, which have also noted a developmental shift from bilateral temporal to left inferior frontal regions typically associated with increased sensitivity to sentence structure. The findings thus inform theoretical perspectives on brain and language development and have implications for studying the effects of CIs on neurodevelopmental processes for sentence prosody.

Supplemental Material S1. Supplementary analysis.

Pasquinelli, R., Tessier, A. M., Karas, Z., Hu, X., & Kovelman, I. (2023). Development of left hemisphere lateralization for sentence-level prosodic processing. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 66(4), 1365–1377.


Funding for this project was provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through Grant R01HD092498, awarded to Ioulia Kovelman.