Postersession 2
Poster #: 116
Topic: Speech and language (incl. deficits)
Thursday, Sep 10, 2015
1st floor

Processing of non-native prosodic information: a MMN study

Ferenc Honbolygó, Andrea Kóbor, & Valéria Csépe

Research Centre for Natural Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary

Prosodic features of speech contribute to the process of extracting words from the continuous speech input: For example word stress can mark word boundaries. Previous findings suggest that word stress patterns may have long-term representations in a pre-lexical form that can be used by lexical acquisition processes in segmenting speech. We suppose that these representations are language specific and therefore are activated only by stress related acoustic features of a specific language.

In the present study, we investigated the language specific nature of these stress templates measuring event-related brain potential responses. In a passive oddball paradigm, Hungarian participants heard trisyllabic pseudowords, while we recorded the brain’s electrical activity with a 128 channel EEG system. Pseudowords were stressed on one of the three syllables and were presented with either Hungarian or German pronunciation.

Results showed that pseudowords stressed on the second or third syllables pronounced in Hungarian elicited two Mismatch Negativity (MMN) components, one related to the first syllable an another one related to the additional stress, while those pronounced in German elicited a single MMN, related to the additional stress. The lack of the MMN to the missing stress in the German condition might imply that stress templates were not activated by foreign words, and without these the processing of missing stress on the first syllable was absent. These findings support our hypothesis that the processing of stress relies on language specific long-term representations.