Poster #: 101
Topic: Speech and language (incl. deficits)
Thursday, Sep 10, 2015
Repair or violation detection? Pre-attentive processing strategies of phonotactic illegality demonstrated on the constraint of g-deletion in German
1Cognitive and Biological Psychology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany
2Helmut Schmidt University/ University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg, Germany
Using the Mismatch Negativity (MMN) as a tool for assessing linguistic knowledge activation from long term memory, we investigated effects of language-specific categorical phonotactic knowledge on pre-attentive speech processing. To this end, we presented illegal speech input that violated a phonotactic constraint in German called “g-deletion” while recording the EEG. Recent psycholinguistic research has reported on two different mechanisms to deal with phonotactic ill-formed speech input: early and automatic repair strategies or the detection of the violation due to a phonotactic evaluation process. In the present study, we aimed to extend previous findings of automatic processing of phonotactic violations and to investigate the role of stimulus context in triggering either an automatic phonotactic repair or a detection of the violation. The MMN was obtained in two identical cross-sectional experiments with speaker variation and 16 healthy adult participants each. Four pseudowords were used as stimuli, three of them phonotactically legal and one illegal. Stimuli were contrasted pair-wise in passive oddball conditions and presented binaurally via headphones. Phonotactically illegal stimuli were found to be processed differently compared to legal ones. Results indicate evidence for both automatic repair and detection of the phonotactic violation depending on the linguistic context the illegal stimulus was embedded in. These findings further strengthen the assumption that categorical phonotactic knowledge, as stored in long-term memory, is activated and applied even in the absence of attention and thus contribute to the general understanding of sub-lexical phonological processing.