15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

The Brain's Response to Hummed Sentences

Ann Pannekamp, Ulrike Toepel, Anja Hahne, Angela Friederici

Max Planck Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Germany

The paper at hand investigates the processing of pure prosodic information using electrophysiological measures. Previous experiments showed a specific EEG response, a positive shift, in correlation to Intonational Phrase boundaries (IPh, Selkirk, 1984) in auditorily presented sentences (Steinhauer et al., 1999). This component is called Closure Positive Shift (CPS) and interpreted as a reflection of the processing of intonational boundaries in the speech signal. However, up to now it is unclear whether the CPS is determined by prosodic information only or whether it also depends on additional structural information contained in the signal. The aim of the present study was to separate prosodic processing from that of syntax and semantics and to investigate the brain's response to isolated prosodic information. We were able to show that isolated prosodic information also elicits a large positive shift at IPh boundaries. These results indicate that even prosody on its own is sufficient to evoke the event-related brain potential Closure Positive Shift (CPS).

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Pannekamp, Ann / Toepel, Ulrike / Hahne, Anja / Friederici, Angela (2003): "The brain's response to hummed sentences", In ICPhS-15, 877-880.