The right hemisphere of sleeping infant perceives sentential prosody

Neurosci Res. 2006 Apr;54(4):276-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2005.12.006. Epub 2006 Jan 20.


Behavioral studies proposed that prosodic information in speech sounds plays important roles for human infants to acquire their native languages. Here, we examined the neural basis of prosodic processing in 3-month-old infants. In order to obtain hemodynamic responses with high signal-to-noise ratio, we used near-infrared optical topography in the infants while they were in quiet sleep. First, we observed bilateral activation under each of the normal and flattened speech conditions. The flattened speech sound was created by eliminating changes in the pitch contours of the original utterance. In a direct comparison between the two conditions, the right temporoparietal region showed more prominent activation to normal speech sounds than to flattened speech sounds. This result demonstrates that the localized region of the right hemisphere in 3-month-old infant is involved in the processing of pitch contours. Our findings suggest that prosodic processing in the right hemisphere may facilitate the acquisition of lexical or syntactic knowledge in the early stages of language development.

MeSH terms

  • Brain / blood supply
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Oxyhemoglobins / analysis
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Pitch Perception
  • Sleep*
  • Speech Perception*
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology


  • Oxyhemoglobins