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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DIETARY INFLUENCES ON PSYCHOLOGICAL AND PHYSIOLOGICAL FUNCTION IN CHILDREN

Location: Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center

Title: Early stage cortical processing of language sounds is modulated by diet and gender influences in four month old infants: Variations in the ERP P1 component.

Authors
item Pivik, Rudolph -
item Andres, Aline -
item Badger, Thomas

Submitted to: Psychophysiology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: June 15, 2010
Publication Date: September 29, 2010
Citation: Pivik, R.T., Andres, A., Badger, T.M. 2010. Early stage cortical processing of language sounds is modulated by diet and gender influences in four month old infants: Variations in the ERP P1 component. Psychophysiology. 47(S1):S96-S97.

Interpretive Summary: We looked at whether infant diet [breast milk or formula (milk-based or soy-based], influenced brain responses to a speech sound (/pa/) in 4 month old babies. Brain responses on the left side of the brain specialized for language functions, were smaller in formula-fed boys than in either formula-fed girls or breastfed infants. The basis for these differences and their possible effects on language development are unclear at this time. However, these findings point to composition differences between breast milk and formulas with gender-specific influences. In view of concerns about the safety of soy-formula on development, the absence of study effects specific to this formula is notable.

Technical Abstract: Early post-natal nutrition influences later development, but how different infant diets affect maturation of brain function is not well understood. We examined the effects of infant diet on the processing of language sounds in 4 month old awake infants, who were breastfed (BF: n = 18, 9 males), fed milk-based formula (MF: n = 21, 6 males) or fed soy-based formula (SF: n = 22, 12 males). ERPs two syllables presented in an oddball paradigm were recorded from temporal and frontal brain regions involved in language processes. Amplitude variations of the P1 component associated with early stage cortical processing of acoustic and phonemic information were analyzed using ANOVAs and post-hoc t-tests. Only P1 responses to the standard stimulus are considered in this report. Higher amplitude responses in BF than formula-fed (FF) infants reflected group differences for males (BF > MF or SF, p < .05), but not females. Furthermore, differences among males across groups (BF > MF and SF, p = .01) or between genders within groups (BF, ns; MF and SF, females > males, p < .05), were present only for the left hemisphere. These findings suggest that neural generators, of early stage cortical processing of speech sounds in the language-specialized hemisphere, are less developed in FF males than in FF females or BF infants. The basis for and consequences of these effects are unclear at this time, but the results suggest a sensitivity in males to differences in composition of breast milk and formulas involving factors that influence neural development.

Last Modified: 9/21/2014