Pitch processing in the human brain is influenced by language experience

Jack Gandour, Donald Wong, Gary Hutchins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

97 Scopus citations


Positron emission tomography (PET) was used in a cross- linguistic study to compare pitch processing in native speakers of English, a nontone language, with those of Thai, a tone language. When discriminating pitch patterns in Thai words, only the Thai subjects showed activation in the left frontal operculum. Activation of this region near the classically defined Broca's area suggests that the brain recognizes functional properties, rather than simply acoustic properties, of complex auditory cues in accessing language- specific mechanisms in pitch perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2115-2119
Number of pages5
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 22 1998


  • Language
  • PET
  • Phonology
  • Pitch
  • Speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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