Jacobsen, T., Schröger, E., & Sussman, E. (2004). Pre-attentive categorization of vowel formant structure in complex tones. Brain Research. Cognitive Brain Research, 20(3), 473-479.

Pre-attentive categorization of vowel formant structure in complex tones

It has been demonstrated that vowel information can be extracted from speech sounds without attention focused on them, despite widely varying non-speech acoustic information in the input. The present study tested whether even complex tones that were constructed based on F0, F1 and F2 vowel frequencies to resemble the defining features of speech sounds, but were not speech, are categorized pre-attentively according to vowel space information. The Mismatch Negativity brain response was elicited by infrequent tokens of the complex tones, showing that the auditory system can pre-attentively categorize speech information on the basis of the minimal, defining auditory features. The human mind extracts the language-relevant information from complex tones despite the non-relevant variation in the sound input.


Cognitive and Biological Psychology

University of Leipzig
Faculty of Life Sciences
Institute of Psychology
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Dagmar Schrödl
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