To track the course of development in children's fine-grained perception of Mandarin tones, the present study explored how categorical perception (CP) of Mandarin tones emerges along age among 70 four-to seven-year-old children and 16 adults. Prominent discrimination peaks were found for both the child and the adult groups, and they were well aligned with the corresponding identification crossovers. Moreover, six-year-olds showed a much narrower width (i.e. a sharper slope) compared to younger children, and have already acquired adult-like identification competence of Mandarin high-level and mid-rising tones. Although the ability to discriminate within-category tone pairs did not change, the between-category discrimination accuracies were positively correlated with chronological ages among child participants. We assume that the perceptual refinement of Mandarin tones in young children may be driven by an accumulation of perceptual development from the tonal information of the ambient sound input.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Linguistics and Language