An event-related potential investigation of lexical pitch-accent processing in auditory Japanese

Lexical prosody plays an important role in speech comprehension. However, the electrophysiological nature and time course of processing lexical prosody in mora-timed languages are rarely known in contrast to the wealth of knowledge in stress-timed languages and syllable-timed languages like German and French. In the present study, lexical pitch-accent processing in Japanese is investigated using event-related potentials. Participants listened to sentences with verbs either correct or incorrect with respect to pitch-accent (phonological condition), word meaning (semantic condition) or sentence type (syntactic condition). When the brain potentials of correct and incorrect sentences were compared within conditions, the phonological and semantic conditions showed a negativity and positivity (P600), while the syntactic condition displayed a P600. Furthermore, the negativity in response to pitch-accent violations (pitch-accent negativity) appeared approximately 60 ms earlier than the response to semantic violations (N400), while no significant topographical distributions were found between the two components. These results suggest that the pitch-accent negativity reflects initial phonological processing followed by lexical access and word recognition. Moreover, the P600 displayed in all conditions was interpreted as a general integration process that is common across the three domains.

from Brain Research

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Posted on February 12, 2011, in Research and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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