Universiteit Leiden

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Dissertation

Sound of Mind: electrophysiological and behavioural evidence for the role of context, variation and informativity in human speech processing

In this dissertation, electrophysiological (EEG) and behavioural measures are used to investigate how allophonic tonal variants and sub-phonemic features are processed during Mandarin and Dutch speech production, visual processing of written words and reading aloud.

Author
Jessie Nixon
Date
14 October 2014
Links
Full text in Leiden University Repository

Spoken communication involves transmission of a message which takes physical form in acoustic waves. Within any given language, acoustic cues pattern in language-specific ways along language-specific acoustic dimensions to create speech sound contrasts. These cues are utilized by listeners to discriminate between possible intended speaker messages.

It is well documented that individual listeners attend to different acoustic cues. For example, adult second-language (L2) learners often have trouble distinguishing certain L2 speech contrasts. Yet, the question of how listeners come to utilise certain cues and not others is not yet well understood.

The relationship between this continuous and inherently noisy signal and the discrete nature of the underlying messages forms the basis for this thesis. I used electrophysiological (EEG) and behavioural measures to investigate how allophonic tonal variants and sub-phonemic features are processed during Mandarin and Dutch speech production, visual processing of written words and reading aloud. In addition, using the visual world eyetracking paradigm, I investigated how the degree of variation (noise) in the acoustic signal affects perception of Cantonese segment and tone contrasts.

 

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