Dynamic effects of habituation and novelty detection on newborn event-related potentials

Cathryn S. Cortesa, Caitlin M. Hudac, Dennis L. Molfese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Newborns habituate to repeated auditory stimuli, and discriminate syllables, generating opportunities for early language learning. This study investigated trial-by-trial changes in newborn electrophysiological responses to auditory speech syllables as an index of habituation and novelty detection. Auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded from 16 term newborn infants, aged 1–3 days, in response to monosyllabic speech syllables presented during habituation and novelty detection tasks. Multilevel models demonstrated that newborns habituated to repeated auditory syllables, as ERP amplitude attenuated for a late-latency component over successive trials. Subsequently, during the novelty detection task, early- and late-latency component amplitudes decreased over successive trials for novel syllables only, indicating encoding of the novel speech syllable. We conclude that newborns dynamically encoded novel syllables over relatively short time periods, as indicated by a systematic change in response patterns with increased exposure. These results have important implications for understanding early precursors of learning and memory in newborns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104695
JournalBrain and Language
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Auditory
  • Event-related potentials
  • Habituation
  • Newborn
  • Novelty detection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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