Pre-attentive categorization of vowel formant structure in complex tones

BioCog-Cognitive and Biological Psychology, Institut für Allgemeine Psychologie, Universität Leipzig, Seeburgstrasse 14-20, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
Cognitive Brain Research (Impact Factor: 3.77). 09/2004; 20(3):473-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.cogbrainres.2004.03.021
Source: PubMed


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.

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    • "In both tonal and non-tonal languages, rapid phoneme perception is a prerequisite for reliable speech comprehension, Jacobsen found that F1/F2 formant information, crucial for vowel perception, is preattentively analyzed for both speech and non-speech stimuli [35] [36]. For tone languages, rapid toneme perception is an additional prerequisite for reliable speech comprehension. "
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    • "By means of that control condition, it has been shown that the MMN observed in simple oddball paradigms cannot be explained only by the refractoriness of the neural population responding to the standard. Such " true " MMN has been observed for changes in frequency (Campbell et al., 2007; Horvath et al., 2008; Jacobsen and Schröger, 2001; Jacobsen et al., 2003b; Maess et al., 2007), intensity (Jacobsen et al., 2003a), duration (Jacobsen and Schröger, 2003), complex tone structure (Jacobsen et al., 2004b), and vowels (Jacobsen et al., 2004a). Thus, in the simple oddball situation a mechanism of regularity-based modeling of the to-be-expected auditory events is also at play. "
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