Sunday, December 04, 2005

Influences of Temporal Fluctuation on Infant Attention

Our life is filled with recognizable rhythms, characteristic tempos, and beginnings and endings, making up important time-based features of our auditory environment. These auditory events can be based on predictability. For example, when one rhythm is played over and over, it becomes predictable, but when changed with an accented note, or altered rhythm, it becomes slightly less predictable. Infants, in contrast with adults generally, hear many more subtle auditory events. This makes them more capable of hearing changes in time, and more capable of reacting to them. In realizing these facts, an experiment entitled "Influences of Temporal Fluctuation on Infant Attention" was done by Takayuki Nakata and Chisato Mitani at Nagasaki Junshin Catholic University. The results of this experiment were presented in the Spring 2005 edition of the journal entitled Music Perception. In this experiment, an infant's attention to sequences of sound was examined as a function of the repetition and regularity of timing and the infants' ability to familiarize themselves with the sequences.

According to Takayuki Nakata and Chisato Mitani, the purpose of this experiment was "to compare infant's attentional responsiveness to sound sequences that differed in temporal coherence." In other words, they wanted to see how well an infant remembered and recalled sound sequences that had changed in some fashion. The reason why they did this experiment was because no studies had been done on infant attention to temporal, or time-based attention preferences for regular and irregular sound sequences. Previous studies, such as Nakata and Trehub in 2004, had done similar studies based on recordings of infants' mothers speaking or singing. In that study, they found that regularity in tempo plays a key role in keeping the atention of an infant. The only difference between that study and our study is that the Nakata and Trehub study only took into account regularity of tempo.

In order to take this difference into account, it was hypothesized by Nakata and Mitani that "regular sound would be more effective than irregular sound sequences in sustaining attention among younger infants, 6-8 months of age, and older infants, 9-11 months of age." The study itself was made up of infants from the two age groups listed above. All of the infants were healthy and did not have a history of ear infections or a family history of hearing loss. An iBook computer was placed in front of the infant in order to present the infant with auditory and visual stimuli. The digital sound files were played on the computer to a speaker behind it. White paper and cloth was placed over everything so the infant could only see the monitor and a puppet to attract the infants attention before every trial. Regular and irregular sound sequences were played for the children in 30 second intervals. The infants were tested individually in a quiet child care facility on top of a female caretaker's lap. When the infant was alert and calm, the experimenter started the monitor, flashing alternating red and black flashes on the monitor every 1/3 of a second. Then the sound sequences begun. The infants were given 10 trials of regular sequences and 10 trials of irregular sequences in random order, but making sure that no more than two of the same type were played in a row at any time.

The results of this experiment supported their predictions for infants 6-8 months of age, but not for those who were 9-11 months of age. The younger infants payed better attention to regular than irregular sound sequences in the last five trials. The older infants did not show different degrees of listening on the basis of sequence of regularity, and they showed less attention than the younger infants to both regular and irregular sound sequences. Also, the experiment showed that the sex of the infants and the sound sequence presented first had no effect on the attention of the infants. Overall, these results thouroughly showed that infants need regularity. Not only did the results support this, but the caretakers reported realizing this during the experiment. This research can also apply to language learning of infants. If regularity is used in teaching language, the students will learn language more effectively. This is the same for music in general. Repitition in music is crucial in the musical learning process.

5 Comments:

Blogger dbu_us said...

This is a little long and may take a while to present. The language is a little intense as well and may be hard to understand aurally.

Thursday, December 08, 2005 9:43:00 AM  
Blogger Keely said...

When just reading the script, I agree with the comment above. However, I thought your presentation came off just fine.

Friday, December 09, 2005 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

I like how your rephrasing in the second paragraph. It's interesting that we read the same articl and understood/explained the article in slightly different ways.

Friday, December 09, 2005 3:52:00 PM  
Blogger TheloniusFunk said...

Great post and great presentation. You obviously knew what you were talking about. It's just enough writing to explain the main points with out sounding boring.

Friday, December 09, 2005 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger hollywoodhottie said...

I thought this was a good presentation! My only suggestion would be to perhaps make it a little less "scholarly", but that's purely my opinion and not what should necessarily be done.

Saturday, December 10, 2005 4:45:00 PM  

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