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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center

Title: ERP measures of syllable processing in 1 year olds: infant diet- and gender-related differences

item Pivik, Rudolph
item Jing, Hongkui
item Gilchrist, Janet
item Andres, Aline
item Badger, Thomas

Submitted to: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Conference
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/11/2009
Publication Date: 4/1/2009
Publication URL:
Citation: Pivik, R.T., Jing, H., Gilchrist, J.M., Andres, A., Badger, T.M. 2009. ERP measures of syllable processing in 1 year olds: Infant diet- and gender-related differences [abstract]. FASEB J. 23(1_MeetingAbstracts):924.1.

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) when babies were 12 months old. All groups showed similar speech-sound responses, but there were greater differences in the size of these responses between boys and girls who were breastfed or fed milk-based formula (boys greater than girls) than in those who were fed soy-based formula (boys and girls more similar). Across groups, responses in boys were similar, but responses were greater in soy-fed girls compared with girls fed the other diets. These findings show evidence of language processing differences between boys and girls at the age of 1 year, and suggest further that this processing may be influenced by early infant diet. These are early results in a long-term study, and the meaning of these findings for language development may become clear as this study progresses.

Technical Abstract: Language skills are generally better in females than males, but the basis for these differences has not been determined. To investigate whether variations in infant diet contribute to these differences, cortical responses to the syllable /pa/ (ERPs;124 sites) were examined in healthy 12-month-old, full-term infants enrolled in a longitudinal study of infant diet on development (Beginnings study). Infants were breastfed exclusively through 4 months and predominantly through 12 months (BF: n = 66, 33 males) or fed commercially produced milk- (MF: n = 65, 37 males) or soy-based formula (SF: n = 61, 31 males) exclusively from at least age 2 through 4 months, and remained on the same formula type through 12 months. ERPs were recorded in awake infants and analyzed using ANOVAs with post-hoc t-tests. Amplitude data for central and temporal cortical areas are reported for responses reflecting sensory registration (P150) and later language feature processing (P370). Group by gender interactions (p < .05) in both brain regions for the P370 reflected higher amplitudes for males than females in BF and MF groups, but not in the SF group. Across groups P370 amplitude was similar for males, but greater in SF females relative to females in other groups (p < .02). Whether these diet- and gender-related differences in syllable processing relate to later language development will be determined as this longitudinal study progresses.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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