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Slide Slam K11

Brain responses to phonological well-formedness as revealed by fast periodic visual stimulation

Slide Slam Session K, Thursday, October 7, 2021, 6:00 - 8:00 am PDT Log In to set Timezone

Marion Amelie VINCENT1, Sébastien VANSTAVEL1, Cedric PATIN2, Sandrine MEJIAS1, Anahita Basirat1; 1Univ. Lille, CNRS, UMR 9193 - SCALab - Sciences Cognitives et Sciences Affectives, F-59000 Lille, France, 2Univ. Lille, CNRS, UMR 8163 – STL –Savoirs, Textes, Langage, F-59000, Lille, France

The current EEG study aimed at investigating whether phonological constraints are processed differently from lexical attestedness. We focused on the Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP) and used the fast periodic visual stimulation paradigm. French native speakers (N = 24) were presented with streams of CCVC items (C: consonant, V: vowel). The items included pseudo-words with frequent CC clusters in French with rising sonority (e.g., dr) and non-words with unattested or very rare CC in French with either rising sonority (e.g., tl) or falling sonority (e.g., vp). The streams consisted in the presentation of four pseudo-words following the presentation of one non-word for 60 seconds. In one of the conditions, the non-words were the items with rising sonority CC (i.e., well-formed condition, WF). In the other condition, the non-words were those with falling sonority CC (i.e., ill-formed condition, IF). A previous behavioral study using the same items showed that French native speakers discriminate between unattested rising and unattested falling CC and are thus sensitive to both dimensions. In the present study, items were presented at a rate of 6 Hz. The frequency of non-words, which were inserted every 5 items, was therefore 1.2 Hz. EEGs were analyzed in the frequency domain. Based on prior studies, we expected to observe a peak at 6 Hz in both conditions. We also expected that non-words would elicit discrimination responses at 1.2 Hz rate (and its harmonics). If the processing of the SSP differs from that of lexical attestedness, we would observe a differential response in the IF condition compared to the WF condition. Analyses were performed on the electrodes showing maximal responses: the middle occipital electrode Oz for the base response at 6 Hz and the occipito-temporal electrodes PO7 and PO8 (and two surrounding electrodes) for the discrimination response at 1.2 Hz and its harmonics. As expected, a significant response was obtained at 6 Hz in both conditions, without any difference between conditions. A discrimination response at 1.2 Hz rate (and its harmonics) was observed in both conditions. Contrary to the WF condition, the discrimination response was right lateralized in the IF condition. This result suggests that the processing of phonological constraints, at least the SSP, may be different from the processing of lexical attestedness. Moreover, the fact that the differential activation was observed using the fast periodic visual stimulation paradigm suggests that early automatic mechanisms may be involved.

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