An Exploration of Auditory Brainstem Encoding of Stop Consonants in Infants and Implications for Language Outcomes

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Current trends in speech-language pathology focus on early intervention as the preferred tool for promoting the best possible outcomes in children with language disorders. Neuroimaging techniques are being studied as promising tools for flagging at-risk infants. In this study, the auditory brainstem response (ABR) to the syllables /ba/ and /ga/ was examined in 41 infants between 3 and 12 months of age as a possible tool to predict language development in toddlerhood. The MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (MCDI) was used to assess language development at 18 months of age. The current study compared the periodicity of the responses to the stop consonants and phase differences between /ba/ and /ga/ in both at-risk and low-risk groups. The study also examined whether there are correlations among ABR measures (periodicity and phase differentiation) and language development. The study found that these measures predict language development at 18 months.