Postersession 3
Poster #: 126
Topic: Speech and language (incl. deficits)
Friday, Sep 11, 2015
1st floor

The influence of acoustic phonetics on the processing of complex consonant onsets

Eve Higby1, Monica Wagner2, Anne Gwinner3, Tanja Rinker3, & Valerie Shafer4

1Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center, New York, United States
2St. John's University, Queens, New York, United States
3University of Konstanz, Konstanz, Germany
4CUNY Graduate Center, New York, United States

The goal of this study is to explore the role of acoustic-phonetic versus phonological cues in speech processing. Eight American English (AE) listeners heard word forms that differed in the onset sequence of phonemes. The stimuli were German words with complex onsets that are meaningless in English (Geschenke, Getraenke). The deviant stimuli consisted of lengthening the first vowel or deleting it. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded to these stimuli using an oddball paradigm designed to elicit the Mismatch Negativity. AE speakers were expected to show smaller MMNs to a vowel reduction compared to a vowel length increase because the former is not phonological for similar English word structures (guitar, gazelle), but the latter is phonological in English (gator, Geisha).

Mismatch responses were found for the vowel increase as well as the vowel deletion. The vowel increase also showed a P3a, indicating orienting, while no P3a was seen for vowel deletions. For the vowel deletion conditions, the mismatch was larger for the Geschenke type than the Getraenke type, even though behaviorally these are not perceptually distinct in English. This suggests that the acoustic-phonetic properties influence the robustness of processing as well as phonological properties. These findings will be discussed in relation to language experience in languages that allow stop-stop consonants (e.g., Russian) versus languages that have very few consonant clusters (e.g., Spanish).