Neurophysiological correlates of automatic integration of voice and gender information during grammatical processing

Alekseeva, Maria, Myachykov, Andriy, Bermudez-Margaretto, Beatriz and Shtyrov, Yury (2022) Neurophysiological correlates of automatic integration of voice and gender information during grammatical processing. Scientific Reports, 12 (1). p. 13114. ISSN 2045-2322

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During verbal communication, interlocutors rely on both linguistic (e.g., words, syntax) and extralinguistic (e.g., voice quality) information. The neural mechanisms of extralinguistic information processing are particularly poorly understood. To address this, we used EEG and recorded event-related brain potentials while participants listened to Russian pronoun–verb phrases presented in either male or female voice. Crucially, we manipulated congruency between the grammatical gender signaled by the verbs’ ending and the speakers’ apparent gender. To focus on putative automatic integration of extralinguistic information into syntactic processing and avoid confounds arising from secondary top-down processes, we used passive non-attend auditory presentation with visual distraction and no stimulus-related task. Most expressed neural responses were found at both early (150 ms, ELAN-like) and late (400 ms, N400-like) phrase processing stages. Crucially, both of these brain responses exhibited sensitivity to extralinguistic information and were significantly enhanced for phrases whose voice and grammatical gender were incongruent, similar to what is known for ERPs effects related to overt grammatical violations. Our data suggest a high degree of automaticity in processing extralinguistic information during spoken language comprehension which indicates existence of a rapid automatic syntactic integration mechanism sensitive to both linguistic and extralinguistic information.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This article is an output of a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE University). This research was also supported by funding from University of Salamanca.
Subjects: C800 Psychology
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2022 08:30
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2022 08:30

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