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The role of left inferior frontal cortex during audiovisual speech perception in infants

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Altvater-Mackensen,  Nicole
Max Planck Research Group Early Social Development, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Altvater-Mackensen, N., & Grossmann, T. (2016). The role of left inferior frontal cortex during audiovisual speech perception in infants. NeuroImage, 133, 14-20. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2016.02.061.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0029-BF15-0
Abstract
In the first year of life, infants’ speech perception attunes to their native language. While the behavioral changes associated with native language attunement are fairly well mapped, the underlying mechanisms and neural processes are still only poorly understood. Using fNIRS and eye tracking, the current study investigated 6-month-old infants' processing of audiovisual speech that contained matching or mismatching auditory and visual speech cues. Our results revealed that infants’ speech-sensitive brain responses in inferior frontal brain regions were lateralized to the left hemisphere. Critically, our results further revealed that speech-sensitive left inferior frontal regions showed enhanced responses to matching when compared to mismatching audiovisual speech, and that infants with a preference to look at the speaker's mouth showed an enhanced left inferior frontal response to speech compared to infants with a preference to look at the speaker's eyes. These results suggest that left inferior frontal regions play a crucial role in associating information from different modalities during native language attunement, fostering the formation of multimodal phonological categories.