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Slide Slam G5

Frontal event-related potentials to self-produced foreign phonemes change as pronunciation improves

Slide Slam Session G, Wednesday, October 6, 2021, 6:00 - 8:00 am PDT Log In to set Timezone

Henry Railo1, Anni Varjonen2, Minna Lehtonen1, Pilleriin Sikka3; 1Department of Psychology and Speech-Language Pathology, University of Turku, Finland, 2Turku Brain and Mind Centre, University of Turku, Finland, 3Department of Cognitive Neuroscience and Philosophy, University of Skövde, Sweden

When learning to pronounce a foreign phoneme, one needs to learn how to produce motor output that matches the target phoneme. This requires comparing the produced phoneme to a representation of the target phoneme and adjusting speech accordingly. Most previous brain research on phoneme learning has employed paradigms where participants solely listen to phonemes. Here, we were interested in how auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) to self-produced phonemes change during learning. We tested 20 Finnish participants who pronounced either familiar /ö/ phonemes or foreign Estonian /õ/ phonemes. In another experimental condition the participants passively listened to a playback of their own speech. Behavioral results showed that the participants’ pronunciation of the foreign /õ/ improved throughout the experiment. Consistent with previous literature, the results showed that between 100–300 ms after sound onset, ERPs to self-produced phonemes were suppressed relative to the same phonemes when heard passively. This effect, known as the speaking-induced suppression, was similar for Finnish and Estonian phonemes and did not change during the experiment. In contrast, during a later time-window (350–500 ms), frontal ERPs to self-produced foreign /õ/ phonemes were selectively modulated throughout the experiment. This effect was not observed for Finnish /ö/ phonemes. This result suggests that the late frontal ERPs may reflect cognitive processes, such as metacognitive evaluation of pronunciation outcome, that mediate the process of learning to produce a novel phoneme.

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