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Mapping prosody onto the lexicon: Memory traces for lexically specified prosodic information in the brain
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4355-1390
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Lexical access, the matching of auditory information onto lexical representations in the brain, is a crucial component of online language processing. To understand the nature of lexical access, it is important to identify the kind of acoustic information that is stored in the long-term memory and to study how the brain uses such information. This dissertation investigates the contribution of prosodic information to lexical access and examines language-specific processing mechanisms by studying three typologically distinct languages: English, Turkish, and Swedish. The main research objective is to demonstrate the activation of long-term memory traces for words on the sole basis of prosodic information and to test the accuracy of typological phonological descriptions suggested in the literature by studying electrophysiological measurements of brain activation. A secondary research objective is to evaluate three distinct electrophysiological recording systems. The dissertation is based on three papers, each examining neural responses to prosodic changes in one of the three languages with a different recording system. The first two papers deal directly with the interplay between prosody and the lexicon, and investigate whether prosodic changes activate memory traces associated with segmentally identical but prosodically different words; the third paper introduces morphology to this process and investigates whether prosodic changes activate memory traces associated with potential lexical derivations. Neural responses demonstrate that prosodic information indeed activates memory traces associated with words and their potential derivations without any given context. Strongly connected neural networks are argued to guarantee neural activation and implementation of long-term memory traces. Regardless of differences in prosodic typology, all languages exploit prosodic information for lexical processing, although to different extents. The amount of neural activation elicited by a particular piece of prosodic information is positively correlated with the strength of its lexical representation in the brain, which is called lexical specification. This dissertation could serve as a first step towards building an electrophysiological-perceptual taxonomy of prosodic processing based on lexical specification.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University , 2016. , 112 p.
Keyword [en]
lexical access, prosody, neuroimaging, electroencephalography, event-related potentials, memory trace, typology, English, Turkish, Swedish
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134571ISBN: 978-91-7649-557-5 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7649-558-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-134571DiVA: diva2:1034248
Public defence
2016-12-02, hörsal 9, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-11-09 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2016-11-16Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Neural correlates of lexical stress: mismatch negativity reflects fundamental frequency and intensity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Neural correlates of lexical stress: mismatch negativity reflects fundamental frequency and intensity
2015 (English)In: NeuroReport, ISSN 0959-4965, E-ISSN 1473-558X, Vol. 26, no 13, 791-796 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Neural correlates of lexical stress were studied using the mismatch negativity (MMN) component in event-related potentials. The MMN responses were expected to reveal the encoding of stress information into long-term memory and the contributions of prosodic features such as fundamental frequency (F0) and intensity toward lexical access. In a passive oddball paradigm, neural responses to changes in F0, intensity, and in both features together were recorded for words and pseudowords. The findings showed significant differences not only between words and pseudowords but also between prosodic features. Early processing of prosodic information in words was indexed by an intensity-related MMN and an F0-related P200. These effects were stable at right-anterior and mid-anterior regions. At a later latency, MMN responses were recorded for both words and pseudowords at the mid-anterior and posterior regions. The P200 effect observed for F0 at the early latency for words developed into an MMN response. Intensity elicited smaller MMN for pseudowords than for words. Moreover, a larger brain area was recruited for the processing of words than for the processing of pseudowords. These findings suggest earlier and higher sensitivity to prosodic changes in words than in pseudowords, reflecting a language-related process. The present study, therefore, not only establishes neural correlates of lexical stress but also confirms the presence of long-term memory traces for prosodic information in the brain.

Keyword
event-related potentials, fundamental frequency, intensity, lexical stress, memory trace, mismatch negativity, pitch, prosody
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-120587 (URN)10.1097/WNR.0000000000000426 (DOI)000360303700010 ()
Available from: 2015-09-14 Created: 2015-09-14 Last updated: 2016-12-28Bibliographically approved
2. Perceptual correlates of Turkish word stress and their contribution to automatic lexical access: Evidence from early ERP components
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perceptual correlates of Turkish word stress and their contribution to automatic lexical access: Evidence from early ERP components
2016 (English)In: Frontiers in Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-4548, E-ISSN 1662-453X, Vol. 10, 7Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Perceptual correlates of Turkish word stress and their contribution to lexical access were studied using the mismatch negativity (MMN) component in event-related potentials (ERPs). The MMN was expected to indicate if segmentally identical Turkish words were distinguished on the sole basis of prosodic features such as fundamental frequency (f0), spectral emphasis (SE) and duration. The salience of these features in lexical access was expected to be reflected in the amplitude of MMN responses. In a multi-deviant oddball paradigm, neural responses to changes in f0, SE, and duration individually, as well as to all three features combined, were recorded for words and pseudowords presented to 14 native speakers of Turkish. The word and pseudoword contrast was used to differentiate language-related effects from acoustic-change effects on the neural responses. First and in line with previous findings, the overall MMN was maximal over frontal and central scalp locations. Second, changes in prosodic features elicited neural responses both in words and pseudowords, confirming the brain’s automatic response to any change in auditory input. However, there were processing differences between the prosodic features, most significantly in f0: While f0 manipulation elicited a slightly right-lateralized frontally-maximal MMN in words, it elicited a frontal P3a in pseudowords. Considering that P3a is associated with involuntary allocation of attention to salient changes, the manipulations of f0 in the absence of lexical processing lead to an intentional evaluation of pitch change. f0 is therefore claimed to be lexically specified in Turkish. Rather than combined features, individual prosodic features differentiate language-related effects from acoustic-change effects. The present study confirms that segmentally identical words can be distinguished on the basis of prosodic information alone, and establishes the salience of f0 in lexical access.

Keyword
Turkish, prosody, word stress, lexical access, event-related potential
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-125417 (URN)10.3389/fnins.2016.00007 (DOI)000368584900001 ()
Available from: 2016-01-11 Created: 2016-01-11 Last updated: 2016-12-28Bibliographically approved
3. Lexical Specification of Prosodic Information in Swedish: Evidence from Mismatch Negativity
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Lexical Specification of Prosodic Information in Swedish: Evidence from Mismatch Negativity
2016 (English)In: Frontiers in Neuroscience, ISSN 1662-4548, E-ISSN 1662-453X, Vol. 10, 533Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Like that of many other Germanic languages, the stress system of Swedish has mainly undergone phonological analysis. Recently, however, researchers have begun to recognize the central role of morphology in these systems. Similar to the lexical specification of tonal accent, the Swedish stress system is claimed to be morphologically determined and morphemes are thus categorized as prosodically specified and prosodically unspecified. Prosodically specified morphemes bear stress information as part of their lexical representations and are classified as tonic (i.e., lexically stressed), pretonic and posttonic, whereas prosodically unspecified morphemes receive stress through a phonological rule that is right-edge oriented, but is sensitive to prosodic specification at that edge. The presence of prosodic specification is inferred from vowel quality and vowel quantity; if stress moves elsewhere, vowel quality and quantity change radically in phonologically stressed morphemes, whereas traces of stress remain in lexically stressed morphemes. The present study is the first to investigate whether stress is a lexical property of Swedish morphemes by comparing mismatch negativity (MMN) responses to vowel quality and quantity changes in phonologically stressed and lexically stressed words. In a passive oddball paradigm, 15 native speakers of Swedish were presented with standards and deviants, which differed from the standards in formant frequency and duration. Given that vowel quality and quantity changes are associated with morphological derivations only in phonologically stressed words, MMN responses are expected to be greater in phonologically stressed words than in lexically stressed words that lack such an association. The results indicated that the processing differences between phonologically and lexically stressed words were reflected in the amplitude and topography of MMN responses. Confirming the expectation, MMN amplitude was greater for the phonologically stressed word than for the lexically stressed word and showed a more widespread topographic distribution. The brain did not only detect vowel quality and quantity changes but also used them to activate memory traces associated with derivations. The present study therefore implies that morphology is directly involved in the Swedish stress system and that changes in phonological shape due to stress shift cue upcoming stress and potential addition of a morpheme.

Keyword
Swedish stress, morphology, prosody, memory trace, EEG, MMN
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Linguistics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134586 (URN)10.3389/fnins.2016.00533 (DOI)000388649600001 ()
Available from: 2016-10-11 Created: 2016-10-11 Last updated: 2017-01-09Bibliographically approved

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