The tritone paradox occurs when two tones that are related by a half-octave (or tritone) are presented in succession and the tones are constructed in such a way that their pitch classes (C, C♯♯, D, etc.) are clearly defined but their octave placement is ambiguous. Previous studies have shown that there are large individual differences in how such tone pairs are perceived, and these differences correlate with the listener's language or dialect. We here present findings showing that perception of the tritone paradox can be heavily influenced by speech heard early in life, even for listeners who do not speak their first language fluently. Our findings point to a specific linkage between speech and music, and they also shed light on the issue of critical periods for the acquisition of intonational properties of speech.

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