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Poster A78, Wednesday, November 8, 10:30 – 11:45 am, Harborview and Loch Raven Ballrooms

Sensory memory for phoneme sequences within spoken words in native-English and native-Polish listeners

Monica Wagner1, Jungmee Lee2, Valerie Shafer3;1St. John's University, 2University of South Florida, 3The Graduate Center, CUNY

The refractory response within the auditory evoked potential (AEP) to repetition of a same word compared to the response to repetition of a different word is of interest as a measure of sensory memory in individuals with auditory processing deficits. Thus, to understand normal processes of sensory memory, the current study examined the effects of attention and language experience on sensory memory for phoneme sequences in native-English and native-Polish adults. Participants listened to same and different nonsense word pairs within two experimental task conditions designed to modulate attention. During one of two testing sessions, participants listened to word pairs and performed a syllable identification task to the second word in the pairs (“With Task”) and in the alternate testing session, participants listened to word pairs without performing a behavioral task (“Without Task”). These experimental task conditions were presented to two groups of 24 participants (48 participants) in a counterbalanced sequence (96 testing sessions). Each group of 24 participants consisted of 12 native-English and 12 native-Polish adults. Nonsense word pairs contained a phoneme sequence contrast (/st-sət/) that occurs in both the English and Polish languages in word onset and a phoneme sequence contrast (/pt-pət/) that occurs in only the Polish language in word onset. The AEP response to the target word (i.e., second word) in the same pairs (e.g., /pətima-pətima/) and different pairs (/ptima-pətima/) was analyzed. The target word in the same and different pairs was unchanged. Thus, a larger response to the target in the different pairs relative to the target in the same pairs suggests that the brain registered the additional sound in the different pair. Preliminary examination of results at averaged fronto-central electrode sites revealed an effect of native-language experience, attention and salience at approximately 400 ms. Specifically, the larger positive response to the different target relative to the same target was either present or clearly more prominent for the “With Task” relative to the “Without Task” experimental conditions, which suggests an effect of attention. Also, language experience with a phoneme sequence contrast as well as frequency of the phoneme sequence contrast within the language influenced the detection response. For example, in the “With Task” conditions, the response to the different target relative to the same target was larger for the /pt-pət/ contrast in the Polish listeners than the English listeners and the response to the /st-sət/ contrast was larger in the English listeners than the Polish listeners. Also, the English group showed a larger response to the /st-sət/ contrast than the Polish group showed to the /pt-pət/ contrast, suggesting an effect of salience of the phonemes. These results suggest that attention, native-language experience and frequency of input of a phoneme sequence within a language should be considered when examining sensory memory for phoneme sequences.

Topic Area: Phonology and Phonological Working Memory

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