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Hemispheric asymmetries in repetition enhancement and suppression effects in the newborn brain

Abstract : Background The repeated presentation of stimuli typically attenuates neural responses (repetition suppression) or, less commonly, increases them (repetition enhancement) when stimuli are highly complex, degraded or presented under noisy conditions. In adult functional neuroimaging research, these repetition effects are considered as neural correlates of habituation. The development and respective functional significance of these effects in infancy remain largely unknown. Objective This study investigates repetition effects in newborns using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, and specifically the role of stimulus complexity in evoking a repetition enhancement vs. a repetition suppression response, following up on Gervain et al. (2008). In that study, abstract rule-learning was found at birth in cortical areas specific to speech processing, as evidenced by a left-lateralized repetition enhancement of the hemodynamic response to highly variable speech sequences conforming to a repetition-based ABB artificial grammar, but not to a random ABC grammar. Methods Here, the same paradigm was used to investigate how simpler stimuli (12 different sequences per condition as opposed to 140), and simpler presentation conditions (blocked rather than interleaved) would influence repetition effects at birth. Results Results revealed that the two grammars elicited different dynamics in the two hemispheres. In left fronto-temporal areas, we reproduce the early perceptual discrimination of the two grammars, with ABB giving rise to a greater response at the beginning of the experiment than ABC. In addition, the ABC grammar evoked a repetition enhancement effect over time, whereas a stable response was found for the ABB grammar. Right fronto-temporal areas showed neither initial discrimination, nor change over time to either pattern. Conclusion Taken together with Gervain et al. (2008), this is the first evidence that manipulating methodological factors influences the presence or absence of neural repetition enhancement effects in newborns and stimulus variability appears a particularly important factor. Further, this temporal modulation is restricted to the left hemisphere, confirming its specialization for learning linguistic regularities from birth.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-01823107
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Submitted on : Monday, June 25, 2018 - 5:17:45 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 16, 2022 - 11:43:44 AM

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Judit Gervain, Thierry Nazzi, Camillia Bouchon. Hemispheric asymmetries in repetition enhancement and suppression effects in the newborn brain. PLoS ONE, Public Library of Science, 2015, 10 (10), pp.e0140160. ⟨10.1371/journal.pone.0140160⟩. ⟨halshs-01823107⟩

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