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Thai lexical tone perception in native speakers of Thai, English and Mandarin Chinese: an event-related potentials training study.

Kaan E, Barkley CM, Bao M, Wayland R - BMC Neurosci (2008)

Bottom Line: The MMN was followed by a late negativity, which became smaller with improved discrimination.In addition, native speakers of a non-tone language (English) were initially more sensitive to F0 onset differences (low-falling versus mid-level contrast), which was suppressed as a result of training.This result converges with results from previous behavioral studies and supports the view that attentive as well as non-attentive processing of F0 contrasts is affected by language background, but is malleable even in adult learners.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Linguistics, University of Florida, Box 115454, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA. kaan@ufl.edu

ABSTRACT

Background: Tone languages such as Thai and Mandarin Chinese use differences in fundamental frequency (F0, pitch) to distinguish lexical meaning. Previous behavioral studies have shown that native speakers of a non-tone language have difficulty discriminating among tone contrasts and are sensitive to different F0 dimensions than speakers of a tone language. The aim of the present ERP study was to investigate the effect of language background and training on the non-attentive processing of lexical tones. EEG was recorded from 12 adult native speakers of Mandarin Chinese, 12 native speakers of American English, and 11 Thai speakers while they were watching a movie and were presented with multiple tokens of low-falling, mid-level and high-rising Thai lexical tones. High-rising or low-falling tokens were presented as deviants among mid-level standard tokens, and vice versa. EEG data and data from a behavioral discrimination task were collected before and after a two-day perceptual categorization training task.

Results: Behavioral discrimination improved after training in both the Chinese and the English groups. Low-falling tone deviants versus standards elicited a mismatch negativity (MMN) in all language groups. Before, but not after training, the English speakers showed a larger MMN compared to the Chinese, even though English speakers performed worst in the behavioral tasks. The MMN was followed by a late negativity, which became smaller with improved discrimination. The High-rising deviants versus standards elicited a late negativity, which was left-lateralized only in the English and Chinese groups.

Conclusion: Results showed that native speakers of English, Chinese and Thai recruited largely similar mechanisms when non-attentively processing Thai lexical tones. However, native Thai speakers differed from the Chinese and English speakers with respect to the processing of late F0 contour differences (high-rising versus mid-level tones). In addition, native speakers of a non-tone language (English) were initially more sensitive to F0 onset differences (low-falling versus mid-level contrast), which was suppressed as a result of training. This result converges with results from previous behavioral studies and supports the view that attentive as well as non-attentive processing of F0 contrasts is affected by language background, but is malleable even in adult learners.

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Isovoltage maps to Low-falling deviants minus standards: 500–700 ms. Isovoltage maps for the 500–700 ms window for the low-falling deviants minus standards.
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Figure 5: Isovoltage maps to Low-falling deviants minus standards: 500–700 ms. Isovoltage maps for the 500–700 ms window for the low-falling deviants minus standards.

Mentions: The negativity persisted in the 500–700 ms interval, see Figure 5 [Midline: F(1,32) = 10.11, p = 0.003; Lateral: F(1,32) = 12.70, p = 0.001], and remained larger over the left than the right hemisphere [CONDITION by HEMISPHERE: F(1,32) = 5.203, p = 0.029; Effect of CONDITION: Left hemisphere: F(1,32) = 4.201, p = 0.049; Right: F(1,32) = 2.37, p = 0.13]. Effects involving the factor TEST TIME were not significant in this time window. The later negativity was not affected by language background in either the 350–500 ms or the 500–700 ms time window.


Thai lexical tone perception in native speakers of Thai, English and Mandarin Chinese: an event-related potentials training study.

Kaan E, Barkley CM, Bao M, Wayland R - BMC Neurosci (2008)

Isovoltage maps to Low-falling deviants minus standards: 500–700 ms. Isovoltage maps for the 500–700 ms window for the low-falling deviants minus standards.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2483720&req=5

Figure 5: Isovoltage maps to Low-falling deviants minus standards: 500–700 ms. Isovoltage maps for the 500–700 ms window for the low-falling deviants minus standards.
Mentions: The negativity persisted in the 500–700 ms interval, see Figure 5 [Midline: F(1,32) = 10.11, p = 0.003; Lateral: F(1,32) = 12.70, p = 0.001], and remained larger over the left than the right hemisphere [CONDITION by HEMISPHERE: F(1,32) = 5.203, p = 0.029; Effect of CONDITION: Left hemisphere: F(1,32) = 4.201, p = 0.049; Right: F(1,32) = 2.37, p = 0.13]. Effects involving the factor TEST TIME were not significant in this time window. The later negativity was not affected by language background in either the 350–500 ms or the 500–700 ms time window.

Bottom Line: The MMN was followed by a late negativity, which became smaller with improved discrimination.In addition, native speakers of a non-tone language (English) were initially more sensitive to F0 onset differences (low-falling versus mid-level contrast), which was suppressed as a result of training.This result converges with results from previous behavioral studies and supports the view that attentive as well as non-attentive processing of F0 contrasts is affected by language background, but is malleable even in adult learners.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Linguistics, University of Florida, Box 115454, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA. kaan@ufl.edu

ABSTRACT

Background: Tone languages such as Thai and Mandarin Chinese use differences in fundamental frequency (F0, pitch) to distinguish lexical meaning. Previous behavioral studies have shown that native speakers of a non-tone language have difficulty discriminating among tone contrasts and are sensitive to different F0 dimensions than speakers of a tone language. The aim of the present ERP study was to investigate the effect of language background and training on the non-attentive processing of lexical tones. EEG was recorded from 12 adult native speakers of Mandarin Chinese, 12 native speakers of American English, and 11 Thai speakers while they were watching a movie and were presented with multiple tokens of low-falling, mid-level and high-rising Thai lexical tones. High-rising or low-falling tokens were presented as deviants among mid-level standard tokens, and vice versa. EEG data and data from a behavioral discrimination task were collected before and after a two-day perceptual categorization training task.

Results: Behavioral discrimination improved after training in both the Chinese and the English groups. Low-falling tone deviants versus standards elicited a mismatch negativity (MMN) in all language groups. Before, but not after training, the English speakers showed a larger MMN compared to the Chinese, even though English speakers performed worst in the behavioral tasks. The MMN was followed by a late negativity, which became smaller with improved discrimination. The High-rising deviants versus standards elicited a late negativity, which was left-lateralized only in the English and Chinese groups.

Conclusion: Results showed that native speakers of English, Chinese and Thai recruited largely similar mechanisms when non-attentively processing Thai lexical tones. However, native Thai speakers differed from the Chinese and English speakers with respect to the processing of late F0 contour differences (high-rising versus mid-level tones). In addition, native speakers of a non-tone language (English) were initially more sensitive to F0 onset differences (low-falling versus mid-level contrast), which was suppressed as a result of training. This result converges with results from previous behavioral studies and supports the view that attentive as well as non-attentive processing of F0 contrasts is affected by language background, but is malleable even in adult learners.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus