Cebulski receives the best paper award in this year’s Institute of Cognitive Science Spring Conference
Congratulations to Sarah and her coauthors–Kathy Van Bentham and Matthew Darling!
Automatic processing and integration of language specific cues
Abstract: Suprasegmental cues such as intensity and pitch play an important role in language processing. English content words, for example, are characterized by a strong-weak intensity pattern that even infants have been shown to discriminate by an early age. Despite this, the neurological basis of suprasegmental processing (intensity vs. pitch) and exactly how these cues are integrated with segmental cues (“ba” vs. “ga”) in adult listeners has not been elucidated. The aim of the present ERP study was to investigate the neurological activity associated with these suprasegmental cues to determine whether they are processed differently by English speakers. Results revealed the amplitude of an anterior left-hemispheric negativity 150-250 ms post-stimulus was larger for intensity and segmental conditions than pitch and control conditions, indicating an ability of listeners to discriminate both segmental and language specific suprasegmental cues efficiently. More importantly, the onset of this component occurred earlier for the intensity condition than segmental condition, suggesting that automatic language processing occurs earlier for language relevant suprasegmental cues than for segmental cues. Within the suprasegmental conditions, a left-hemispheric positivity 300 ms post stimulus associated with integration of suprasegmental and segmental cues was also found both anteriorly and posteriorly for the intensity but not pitch condition. These results suggest that language relevant suprasegmental cues are processed earlier than segmental cues and are also integrated more efficiently with segmental cues than are non-relevant suprasegmental cues. The present study is the first to provide clear neurological evidence for an integration process specific to language relevant suprasegmental cues.