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When correction turns positive: Processing corrective prosody in Dutch

Dimitrova, D. V., Stowe, L. A., & Hoeks, J. C. (2015). When correction turns positive: Processing corrective prosody in Dutch. PLoS One, 10(5): e0126299. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126299.
Current research on spoken language does not provide a consistent picture as to whether prosody, the melody and rhythm of speech, conveys a specific meaning. Perception studies show that English listeners assign meaning to prosodic patterns, and, for instance, associate some accents with contrast, whereas Dutch listeners behave more controversially. In two ERP studies we tested how Dutch listeners process words carrying two types of accents, which either provided new information (new information accents) or corrected information (corrective accents), both in single sentences (experiment 1) and after corrective and new information questions (experiment 2). In both experiments corrective accents elicited a sustained positivity as compared to new information accents, which started earlier in context than in single sentences. The positivity was not modulated by the nature of the preceding question, suggesting that the underlying neural mechanism likely reflects the construction of an interpretation to the accented word, either by identifying an alternative in context or by inferring it when no context is present. Our experimental results provide strong evidence for inferential processes related to prosodic contours in Dutch
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