Early cerebral specialization and lateralization for auditory processing in 4-month-old infants was studied by recording high-density evoked potentials to acoustical and phonetic changes in a series of repeated stimuli (either tones or syllables). Mismatch responses to these stimuli exhibit a distinct topography suggesting that different neural networks within the temporal lobe are involved in the perception and representation of the different features of an auditory stimulus. These data confirm that specialized modules are present within the auditory cortex very early in development. However, both for syllables and continuous tones, higher voltages were recorded over the left hemisphere than over the right with no significant interaction of hemisphere by type of stimuli. This suggests that there is no greater left hemisphere involvement in phonetic processing than in acoustic processing during the first months of life.

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