Aging Effect on Categorical Perception of Mandarin Tones 2 and 3 and Thresholds of Pitch Contour Discrimination Purpose The purpose of the study was to examine the aging effect on the categorical perception of Mandarin Chinese Tone 2 (rising F0 pitch contour) and Tone 3 (falling-then-rising F0 pitch contour) as well as on the thresholds of pitch contour discrimination. Method Three experiments of Mandarin tone ... Research Article
Research Article  |   March 01, 2017
Aging Effect on Categorical Perception of Mandarin Tones 2 and 3 and Thresholds of Pitch Contour Discrimination
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Yuxia Wang
    School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Xiaohu Yang
    School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Hui Zhang
    School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Lilong Xu
    School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Can Xu
    School of Foreign Languages, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China
  • Chang Liu
    Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Texas at Austin
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Chang Liu: changliu@mail.utexas.edu
  • Editor: Sumitrajit Dhar
    Editor: Sumitrajit Dhar×
  • Associate Editor: Lauren Calandruccio
    Associate Editor: Lauren Calandruccio×
Article Information
Special Populations / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Older Adults & Aging / Research Articles
Research Article   |   March 01, 2017
Aging Effect on Categorical Perception of Mandarin Tones 2 and 3 and Thresholds of Pitch Contour Discrimination
American Journal of Audiology, March 2017, Vol. 26, 18-26. doi:10.1044/2016_AJA-16-0020
History: Received February 3, 2016 , Revised July 11, 2016 , Accepted September 1, 2016
 
American Journal of Audiology, March 2017, Vol. 26, 18-26. doi:10.1044/2016_AJA-16-0020
History: Received February 3, 2016; Revised July 11, 2016; Accepted September 1, 2016

Purpose The purpose of the study was to examine the aging effect on the categorical perception of Mandarin Chinese Tone 2 (rising F0 pitch contour) and Tone 3 (falling-then-rising F0 pitch contour) as well as on the thresholds of pitch contour discrimination.

Method Three experiments of Mandarin tone perception were conducted for younger and older listeners with Mandarin Chinese as the native language. The first 2 experiments were in the categorical perception paradigm: tone identification and tone discrimination for a series of stimuli, the F0 contour of which systematically varied from Tone 2 to Tone 3. In the third experiment, the just-noticeable differences of pitch contour discrimination were measured for both groups.

Results In the measures of categorical perception, older listeners showed significantly shallower slopes in the tone identification function and significantly smaller peakedness in the tone discrimination function compared with younger listeners. Moreover, the thresholds of pitch contour discrimination were significantly higher for older listeners than for younger listeners.

Conclusion These results suggest that aging reduced the categoricality of Mandarin tone perception and worsened the psychoacoustic capacity to discriminate pitch contour changes, thereby possibly leading to older listeners' difficulty in identifying Tones 2 and 3.

Acknowledgments
This study was funded by the Shanghai Planning Office of Philosophy and Social Science (Project 2014BYY005), by Shanghai Jiao Tong University Interdisciplinary Funds (Social Cognitive and Behavioral Science Project 13JCRY02), and by Shanghai Jiao Tong University Funds (Social Science Project 13QN08). We thank Michelle Schoenecker for her editing assistance with the article.
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