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Baby Lab

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Organization and discrimination of repeating sound sequences by newborn infants

128 3-4 day old newborns were tested in 3 experiments to verify whether stream segregation is part of the perceptual apparatus that first encounters the acoustic world. Ss' capacity to use the timbre and spatial position of naturalistic sounds to perceptually organize sound sequences in terms of 2 distinct auditory entities was examined. Specifically, a test of infants' ability to discriminate a melody from its retrograde was performed to find stimulus conditions under which they could perform the discrimination using a non-nutrive sucking paradigm (Exps 1 and 2). Similar conditions were presented to adults for comparison (Exp 4). The discriminable melody patterns were presented under conditions that adults perceive as 2 separate sound streams organized on the basis of timbre and partial positions (Exp 3 for newborns, Exp 4 for adults). Results show that newborns can discriminate rising and falling melodic patterns under certain conditions. They were able to make the discrimination for large pitch interval/slow tempo sequences organized in the 3/1 configuration (Exp 2), but they do not discriminate patterns with small interval and fast tempo conditions (Exp 1). Neither newborns nor adults discriminated organized from retrograded 2/2 configurations (Exps 3 and 4). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2005 APA, all rights reserved)



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