Scientific article
Open access

Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence for the impact of regional variation on phoneme perception

Published inCognition, vol. 111, no. 3, p. 390-396
Publication date2009

This event-related potential (ERP) study examined the impact of phonological variation resulting from a vowel merger on phoneme perception. The perception of the /e/-/epsilon/ contrast which does not exist in Southern French-speaking regions, and which is in the process of merging in Northern French-speaking regions, was compared to the /ø/-/y/ contrast, which is stable in all French-speaking regions. French-speaking participants from Switzerland for whom the /e/-/epsilon/ contrast is preserved, but who are exposed to different regional variants, had to perform a same-different task. They first heard four phonemically identical but acoustically different syllables (e.g., /be/-/be/-/be/-/be/), and then heard the test syllable which was either phonemically identical to (/be/) or phonemically different from (/bepsilon/) the preceding context stimuli. The results showed that the unstable /e/-/epsilon/ contrast only induced a mismatch negativity (MMN), whereas the /ø/-/y/ contrast elicited both a MMN and electrophysiological differences on the P200. These findings were in line with the behavioral results in which responses were slower and more error-prone in the /e/-/epsilon/ deviant condition than in the /ø/-/y/ deviant condition. Together these findings suggest that the regional variability in the speech input to which listeners are exposed affects the perception of speech sounds in their own accent.

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Data Interpretation
  • Statistical
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials/physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Young Adult
Research group
  • Autre - FNRS Grant 105311-109987/1
  • Autre - ANR Grant ANR-08-BLAN-0276-01
Citation (ISO format)
BRUNELLIERE, Angèle et al. Behavioral and electrophysiological evidence for the impact of regional variation on phoneme perception. In: Cognition, 2009, vol. 111, n° 3, p. 390–396. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2009.02.013
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0010-0277

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