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November 2021

Discrimination of prosody and music by normal children

Author(s): Fitzsimons, M., Asenbauer, B., Staunton, H.

Journal/Book: Eur J Neurol. 1999; 6: 221-226.

Abstract: Prosody or the melody of speech is the process used to alter the meaning (linguistic prosody) or emotional force (affective prosody) of a sentence. The components of prosody are rhythm, pitch, tone and stress and they are articulated by modulation of the acoustic correlates of prosody; frequency, duration and amplitude. Little is known about the development of prosody in normal children other than that it appears to be a precursor to the further acquisition of normal language. In order to examine the development of the perception of prosody in normal children, a group of 40 neurologically normal children aged between 5 and 9 years were subjected to a number of prosodic recognition tasks. The objective was to modify a number of existing tasks and to devise a number of new ones to test both linguistic and affective prosody and the appreciation of affective cues in music. The results indicate a step-wise improvement in perceptual contours up to 8.5 years old. However the perception of emotion in music appears highly developed early on in development. This study provides normative data and is the first report of a comparison between the development of prosodic and musical appreciation in this age group of normal children.

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