Hemispheric roles in the perception of speech prosody

Department of Audiology and Speech Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2038, USA.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.36). 10/2004; 23(1):344-57. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2004.06.004
Source: PubMed


Speech prosody is processed in neither a single region nor a specific hemisphere, but engages multiple areas comprising a large-scale spatially distributed network in both hemispheres. It remains to be elucidated whether hemispheric lateralization is based on higher-level prosodic representations or lower-level encoding of acoustic cues, or both. A cross-language (Chinese; English) fMRI study was conducted to examine brain activity elicited by selective attention to Chinese intonation (I) and tone (T) presented in three-syllable (I3, T3) and one-syllable (I1, T1) utterance pairs in a speeded response, discrimination paradigm. The Chinese group exhibited greater activity than the English in a left inferior parietal region across tasks (I1, I3, T1, T3). Only the Chinese group exhibited a leftward asymmetry in inferior parietal and posterior superior temporal (I1, I3, T1, T3), anterior temporal (I1, I3, T1, T3), and frontopolar (I1, I3) regions. Both language groups shared a rightward asymmetry in the mid portions of the superior temporal sulcus and middle frontal gyrus irrespective of prosodic unit or temporal interval. Hemispheric laterality effects enable us to distinguish brain activity associated with higher-order prosodic representations in the Chinese group from that associated with lower-level acoustic/auditory processes that are shared among listeners regardless of language experience. Lateralization is influenced by language experience that shapes the internal prosodic representation of an external auditory signal. We propose that speech prosody perception is mediated primarily by the RH, but is left-lateralized to task-dependent regions when language processing is required beyond the auditory analysis of the complex sound.

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Available from: M. Dzemidzic, Mar 02, 2014
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    • "Previous studies have investigated language-dependent changes in the hemispheric laterality of tone processing in isolated pitch stimuli (e.g., Gandour et al., 2004; Luo et al., 2006). Our results extend these previous studies by demonstrating a hemispheric asymmetry in the cortical processing of contour and interval features within ongoing , continuous pitch patterns. "
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    ABSTRACT: Electrophysiological studies demonstrate that the neural coding of pitch is modulated by language experience and the linguistic relevance of the auditory input; both rightward and leftward asymmetries have been observed in the hemispheric specialization for pitch. In music, pitch is encoded using two primary features: contour (patterns of rises and falls) and interval (frequency separation between tones) cues. Recent evoked potential studies demonstrate that these "global" (contour) and "local" (interval) aspects of pitch are processed automatically (but bilaterally) in trained musicians. Here, we examined whether alternate forms of pitch expertise, namely, tone-language experience (i.e., Chinese), influence the early detection of contour and intervallic deviations within ongoing pitch sequences. Neuroelectric mismatch negativity (MMN) potentials were recorded in Chinese speakers and English-speaking nonmusicians in response to continuous pitch sequences with occasional global or local deviations in the ongoing melodic stream. This paradigm allowed us to explore potential cross-language differences in the hemispheric weighting for contour and interval processing of pitch. Chinese speakers showed differential pitch encoding between hemispheres not observed in English listeners; Chinese speakers' MMNs revealed a rightward bias for contour processing but a leftward hemispheric laterality for interval processing. In contrast, no asymmetries were observed in the English group. Collectively, our findings suggest tone-language experience sensitizes auditory brain mechanisms for the detection of subtle global/local pitch changes in the ongoing auditory stream and exaggerates functional asymmetries in pitch processing between cerebral hemispheres. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2015 · Neuroscience
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    • "This is also in line with behavioral and imaging studies on perceptual detection of words, which show LH superiority for verbal processing and for rapid information processes (Gandour et al., 2003; Nicholls, 1996; Schirmer & Kotz, 2006; Vouloumanos, Kiehl, Werker, & Liddle, 2001; Zatorre & Belin, 2001). Specifically, the ERP data revealed greater amplitude activation over the left than the right anterior and posterior regions during early ERP processing (150–170 ms) and greater activation over the left than the right posterior region during later ERP processing (240–260 ms).The fact that LH activation was observed for words in both early and late processing stages also supports the possibility that LH involvement is more pronounced in the perception of prosodic units at the syllable or word level (Erhan et al., 1998; Gandour et al., 2004; Sandmann et al., 2007). However, there was greater amplitude activation over the right than the left anterior and central regions during later ERP processing. "
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    ABSTRACT: This study examined the effect of sad prosody on hemispheric specialization for word processing using behavioral and electrophysiological measures. A dichotic listening task combining focused attention and signal-detection methods was conducted to evaluate the detection of a word spoken in neutral or sad prosody. An overall right ear advantage together with leftward lateralization in early (150-170ms) and late (240-260ms) processing stages was found for word detection, regardless of prosody. Furthermore, the early stage was most pronounced for words spoken in neutral prosody, showing greater negative activation over the left than the right hemisphere. In contrast, the later stage was most pronounced for words spoken with sad prosody, showing greater positive activation over the left than the right hemisphere. The findings suggest that sad prosody alone was not sufficient to modulate hemispheric asymmetry in word-level processing. We posit that lateralized effects of sad prosody on word processing are largely dependent on the psychoacoustic features of the stimuli as well as on task demands. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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    • "In light of these views on brain lateralization, Gandour et al. have put forward a comprehensive hypothesis on this issue (Gandour et al., 2000, 2004; Gandour, 2006). They suggested that lexical tonal processing engages both hemispheres, depending on the types of information involved during processing. "
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    ABSTRACT: The accurate perception of lexical tones in tonal languages involves the processing of both acoustic information and phonological information carried by the tonal signal. In this study we evaluated the relative role of the two types of information in native Chinese speaker's processing of tones at a preattentive stage with event-related potentials (ERPs), particularly the mismatch negativity (MNN). Specifically, we distinguished the acoustic from the phonological information by manipulating phonological category and acoustic interval of the stimulus materials. We found a significant main effect of phonological category for the peak latency of MMN, but a main effect of both phonological category and acoustic interval for the mean amplitude of MMN. The results indicated that the two types of information, acoustic and phonological, play different roles in the processing of Chinese lexical tones: acoustic information only impacts the extent of tonal processing, while phonological information affects both the extent and the time course of tonal processing. Implications of these findings are discussed in light of neurocognitive processes of phonological processing.
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