Symposium: Development of auditory and speech processing in infants and children
Wednesday, Sep 9, 2015
Hörsaal 3

The role of emerging templates in infants' speech perception

Valéria Csépe, Linda Garami, Anett Ragó, & Ferenc Honbolygó

Brain Imaging Centre, Research Centre for Natural Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Studies on contrasting rhythmic properties revealed that stress variability detection was a significant factor as formulated in the native language acquisition hypothesis. Other studies showed that cues like lexical stress signaled word boundaries before any lexical knowledge and might play a crucial role in deriving words from spoken utterances. Languages of regular word stress like Hungarian do not use lexical stress so that the only rule used should not interact with the lexicalization in progress.

We conducted two experiments (passive oddball, pdev=25%) with 6 and 10 month-old infants. We used legal and illegal stress variants of a phonotactically correct Hungarian pseudo-word (‘bebe’) in the first experiment (number of participants: 48). Their meaningful counterparts, the frequent Hungarian word ‘baba’ (meaning baby or doll) were used in the second experiment (number of participants: 35). Event-related brain potentials elicited by legal (stress on the first syllable) and illegal (stress on the second syllable) stress both as standards and deviants were recorded in two separate conditions.

Words elicited well detectable MMRs in both conditions indicating a successful detection of deviation irrespectively of stress legality. While a genuine MMR was elicited by the illegal pseudo-word contrasted to legal standard, responses to the illegal standard and deviant did not differ. Our data speaks for a different developmental trajectory of word stress detection and lexicalization showing that the emerging stress template may serve as perceptual anchor and lexicalization may contributes to more flexible word stress processing.

* Supported by the research grant OTKA 101087.