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PIRE undergraduate fellow Abby Cosgrove presented at the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society

When Mar 25, 2018
Where Boston, Massachusetts
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Title: Do faces affect foreign-accented speech comprehension in children: An ERP investigation.


Abstract: Spoken language provides listeners with information about the speaker’s identity, such as age, sex, or accentedness. In spoken communication, foreign-accented speech can challenge comprehension, especially for listeners with limited experience with foreign-accented speech. Using ERPs, we had adults and children (aged 10-11) with little exposure to foreign-accented speech listen to sentences containing a semantic anomaly or pronoun error (and correct counterparts), produced by Chinese-accented and non-accented speakers of English. Adults and children both showed an N400 response to semantic violations in both accent conditions, but pronoun violations elicited a neural response in non-accented speech, but not in foreign-accented speech (Grey & Van Hell, 2017; Grey et al., in prep). In the present study, we examined whether presenting faces as a cue to foreign speaker identity could aid foreign-accented speech comprehension, particularly neural responses to pronoun violations. Prior to listening to Chinese-accented or non-accented speakers (producing the same sentences as above), listeners saw faces congruent with each speaker’s accent. In adults, pronoun violations in foreign-accented speech (as well as non-accented speech) elicited a neural response, indicating face cues aided comprehension. Preliminary analyses of the child data, however, indicate that face presentation did not modulate pronoun processing in foreign-accented speech: children still did not show a neural response to pronoun violations in foreign accented speech (but showed sensitivity to pronoun violations in non-accented speech and semantic violations in both accent conditions). This suggests that adults but not children use faces as a cue to speaker identity to aid foreign-accented speech comprehension.