ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2016, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (1): 1-8.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2016.00001

• Conceptual Framework •     Next Articles

Patterns and neural mechanisms underlying Mandarin speech perception in preschool-age children

REN Gui-Qin1; CHEN Hsuan-Chih2; ZOU Xiao-Yan3; QU Ke-Jia1   

  1. (1 College of Psychology, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China)
    (2 Department of Psychology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 999077, China)
    (3 College of Education, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian 116029, China)
  • Received:2015-02-10 Online:2016-01-15 Published:2016-01-15
  • Contact: REN Gui-Qin, E-mail:


Speech perception has long been an important issue in psycholinguistic researches. Despite the fact that a number of studies have focused on speech perception in different age groups including infants and adults, only very few of these studies were carried out in preschool-age children. There is still a large gap in terms of our understanding of how proficiency in speech perception develops between infancy and adulthood. Furthermore, most of models of speech perception have been proposed based on the researches of non-tone language and are not fit well for explaining Chinese processing. Chinese is a tone language, in which lexical tone is signaled by pitch variations and associated with spectral processing. Moreover, lexical tone is lexically contrastive and can distinguish lexical meaning just as phonemes are. Here we will investigate the Mandarin speech perception in 3- to 5- year-olds preschool children by combining the method of eye tracking, event-related potential recordings and source estimation (LORETA). In the present project, we will focus on the following issues: (1) how children discriminate Mandarin segmental and supra-segmental information at pre-attentive and attentive stages; (2) What are the roles of segmental and supra-segmental information on Mandarin spoken word recognition in preschool-age children, and whether the memory traces for words will be observed in preschoolers; (3) the neural mechanisms underlying Mandarin speech perception in preschool-age children. The investigations of this project present a valuable opportunity to extend the results from infants and adults, and will provide new experimental evidences for the current models of speech perception that built on the studies of non-tone languages.

Key words: Mandarin Chinese, preschool-age children, speech perception, neural mechanism