Poster D70, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Categorization of Mandarin lexical tones in native and naïve non-native listeners: ERP evidence
Yang Gao1, Darren Tanner1, Jerome Packard1, Chilin Shih1; 1University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Native speakers of tonal languages have been shown to perceive lexical tone continua in a more categorical manner than speakers of non-tonal languages. A previous ERP study using an oddball paradigm showed that native Mandarin speakers exhibit different sensitivity to deviant tones that cross category boundaries compared to deviants that belong to the same category as the standard (Zhang et al., 2012), suggesting categorical perception. Other recent ERP findings examining consonant voicing categories question whether perception is truly categorical (Toscano et al., 2010). The current study investigated these discrepant findings by replicating and extending the Zhang et al. study. Native Mandarin speakers and naïve English speakers performed an auditory oddball detection test while EEG was recorded. Naïve English speakers were included to test for language experience effects associated with phonological learning. Stimuli were those from Zhang et al. (2012): one across-category deviant, one within-category deviant, and one standard were chosen from a 10-interval Chinese lexical tonal continuum, where the two deviants were acoustically equidistant from the standard. We found that Mandarin speakers and English speakers demonstrated similar N2/P3 responses. In both groups, the deviants elicited greater N2/P3 responses than the standard. However, there was no difference in the N2 (reflecting attention) or the P3 (reflecting categorization) between two deviants. The N2/P3 pattern also did not differ in scalp topography for the within- versus across-category deviants. Thus, in contrast to Zhang et al., the current electrophysiological results do not support categorical perception of Mandarin tone.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other