Emmendorfer, A. K., Correia, J. M., Jansma, B. M., Kotz, S. A., & Bonte, M.
(2020). ERP mismatch response to phonological and temporal regularities in speech. Scientific Reports, 10: 9917. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-66824-x.
Predictions of our sensory environment facilitate perception across domains. During speech perception, formal and temporal predictions may be made for phonotactic probability and syllable stress patterns, respectively, contributing to the efficient processing of speech input. The current experiment employed a passive EEG oddball paradigm to probe the neurophysiological processes underlying temporal and formal predictions simultaneously. The component of interest, the mismatch negativity (MMN), is considered a marker for experience-dependent change detection, where its timing and amplitude are indicative of the perceptual system’s sensitivity to presented stimuli. We hypothesized that more predictable stimuli (i.e. high phonotactic probability and first syllable stress) would facilitate change detection, indexed by shorter peak latencies or greater peak amplitudes of the MMN. This hypothesis was confirmed for phonotactic probability: high phonotactic probability deviants elicited an earlier MMN than low phonotactic probability deviants. We do not observe a significant modulation of the MMN to variations in syllable stress. Our findings confirm that speech perception is shaped by formal and temporal predictability. This paradigm may be useful to investigate the contribution of implicit processing of statistical regularities during (a)typical language development.
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