Poster B46, Sunday, March 25, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Modulatory Effects of Emotional Prosody on Neural Sensitivity to Speech Discrimination in Second Language Learners
Chieh Kao1, Yang Zhang1; 1University of Minnesota
Basic emotional signals in speech are thought to be universal whereas phonetic processing is language-specific. Our event-related potential (ERP) data showed that emotional prosody modulates phonetic processing at the early pre-attentive level and the later stages. This follow-up study used the same multi-feature oddball paradigm to investigate whether English-as-a-second-language (ESL) learners’ neural responses to English stimuli with phonetic and prosodic contrasts would show similar modulation effects. Participants were sixteen adult ESL learners. The monosyllable /bab/ in a neutral tone was the standard. The deviants differed from standard in prosody (happy and sad), phoneme (/gab/), or both dimensions (happy-/gab/ and sad-/gab/). For the /b-g/ phonetic contrast and neutral-sad contrast, the ESL learners showed mismatch negativity (MMN) responses similar to the native English speakers. While happy prosody also elicited a similar positive mismatch response at about 250 ms, it did not produce a later negativity in the ESL learners. For deviants with changes in both phonetic and prosodic dimensions, the early MMN response (prior to 150 ms) that was found in native English speakers was missing in the ESL group and there were also differences in later stages of processing. These results demonstrate similarities and differences between first and second language speakers in their neural sensitivity to basic emotional signals in speech. Moreover, the modulatory effects of emotional prosody on phonetic discrimination are shaped by language experience.
Topic Area: LANGUAGE: Other