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Brain Res. 2015 Apr 7;1603:101-13. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2015.01.032. Epub 2015 Jan 28.

The perceptual chunking of speech: a demonstration using ERPs.

Author information

1
Laboratoire de Sciences Phonétiques, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7; Laboratoire de Recherche en Neurosciences et Électrophysiologie Cognitive, Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies, 7070, boul. Perras, Montréal, QC, Canada H1E 1A4. Electronic address: annie.c.gilbert@mcgill.ca.
2
Laboratoire de Sciences Phonétiques, Université de Montréal, C.P. 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7. Electronic address: victor.boucher@umontreal.ca.
3
Laboratoire de Recherche en Neurosciences et Électrophysiologie Cognitive, Hôpital Rivière-des-Prairies, 7070, boul. Perras, Montréal, QC, Canada H1E 1A4; Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin, École d׳Orthophonie et d׳Audiologie, Université de Montréal, 6128, Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, QC, Canada H3C 3J7. Electronic address: boutheina.jemel@umontreal.ca.

Abstract

In tasks involving the learning of verbal or non-verbal sequences, groupings are spontaneously produced. These groupings are generally marked by a lengthening of final elements and have been attributed to a domain-general perceptual chunking linked to working memory. Yet, no study has shown how this domain-general chunking applies to speech processing, partly because of the traditional view that chunking involves a conceptual recoding of meaningful verbal items like words (Miller, 1956). The present study provides a demonstration of the perceptual chunking of speech by way of two experiments using evoked Positive Shifts (PSs), which capture on-line neural responses to marks of various groups. We observed listeners׳ response to utterances (Experiment 1) and meaningless series of syllables (Experiment 2) containing changing intonation and temporal marks, while also examining how these marks affect the recognition of heard items. The results show that, across conditions - and irrespective of the presence of meaningful items - PSs are specifically evoked by groups marked by lengthening. Moreover, this on-line detection of marks corresponds to characteristic grouping effects on listeners' immediate recognition of heard items, which suggests chunking effects linked to working memory. These findings bear out a perceptual chunking of speech input in terms of groups marked by lengthening, which constitute the defining marks of a domain-general chunking.

KEYWORDS:

Chunking; Domain-general processes; ERP; Grouping effects; Perceptual chunking; Positive shifts; Prosody; Short-term memory; Speech processing

PMID:
25636270
DOI:
10.1016/j.brainres.2015.01.032
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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