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Hear Res. 2019 Jan;371:28-39. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2018.11.001. Epub 2018 Nov 9.

The frequency-following response (FFR) to speech stimuli: A normative dataset in healthy newborns.

Author information

1
Brainlab - Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu, Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
2
Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu, Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; BCNatal - Barcelona Center for Maternal Fetal and Neonatal Medicine (Hospital Sant Joan de Déu and Hospital Clínic), University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
3
Brainlab - Cognitive Neuroscience Research Group, Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychobiology, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Institute of Neurosciences, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Institut de Recerca Sant Joan de Déu, Esplugues de Llobregat, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Electronic address: cescera@ub.edu.

Abstract

The Frequency-Following Response (FFR) is a neurophonic auditory evoked potential that reflects the efficient encoding of speech sounds and is disrupted in a range of speech and language disorders. This raises the possibility to use it as a potential biomarker for literacy impairment. However, reference values for comparison with the normal population are not yet established. The present study pursues the collection of a normative database depicting the standard variability of the newborn FFR. FFRs were recorded to /da/ and /ga/ syllables in 46 neonates born at term. Seven parameters were retrieved in the time and frequency domains, and analyzed for normality and differences between stimuli. A comprehensive normative database of the newborn FFR is offered, with most parameters showing normal distributions and similar robust responses for /da/ and /ga/ stimuli. This is the first normative database of the FFR to characterize normal speech sound processing during the immediate postnatal days, and corroborates the possibility to record the FFRs in neonates at the maternity hospital room. This normative database constitutes the first step towards the detection of early FFR abnormalities in newborns that would announce later language impairment, allowing early preventive measures from the first days of life.

KEYWORDS:

Auditory brainstem response; Auditory processing; Cognition; FFR; Hearing screening; Human neonates; Language impairments; Speech encoding

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