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Front Psychol. 2014 Nov 25;5:1317. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01317. eCollection 2014.

Evidence for the role of German final devoicing in pre-attentive speech processing: a mismatch negativity study.

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Centre for General Linguistics Berlin, Germany ; Institut für deutsche Sprache und Linguistik, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany.
Department of Psychology, University of Leipzig Leipzig, Germany.
Experimental Psychology Unit, Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg Hamburg, Germany.


Results of a mismatch negativity experiment are reported in which the pre-attentive relevance of the German phonological alternation of final devoicing (FD) is shown in two ways. The experiment employs pseudowords. (1) A deviant [vus] paired with standard /vuzə/ did not show a mismatch effect for the voicing change in /z/ versus [s] because the two can be related by FD. When standard and deviant were reversed, the two could not be related by FD and a mismatch effect for the voicing difference occurred. (2) An ill-formed deviant that violates FD, *[vuz], triggered mismatch effects that were plausibly attributed to its ill-formedness. The results show that a syllable-related process like FD is already taken into account by the processing system in early pre-attentive processing.


German; event-related potentials (ERP); final devoicing; mismatch negativity (MMN); phonological rules; phonotactics; pre-attentive processing

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