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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Perceptual Mechanisms of Second Language Phonemes: An MEG Study

Seiya Funatsu (1), Satoshi Imaizumi (2), Akira Hashizume (3), Kaoru Kurisu (3)

(1) Hiroshima Prefectural Women's University, Japan
(2) Hiroshima Prefectural College of Health Sciences, Japan
(3) Hiroshima University, Japan

A magnetoencephalographic (MEG) study was carried out to investigate the perception of second language phonemes, through testing whether second language sounds uttered by plural speakers elicit a "mismatch" magnetic field (MMF). In this study, we performed two experiments. The first experiment was the measurement of MMF, and the second one was a perception test. In the first experiment, two oddball sessions were adopted. In one session, the stimuli were the English phonemes /ra/ and /la/, spoken by three male speakers of English. In the other session, a control study, the stimuli were the Japanese phonemes /a/ and /i/, spoken by three male speakers of Japanese. In the Japanese session, MMF were observed in all 15 Japanese subjects, and in the English session, MMF were observed in 13. Results showed significant interaction effect between language and hemisphere. Namely, there was a tendency that the Japanese phonemes were mainly perceived in the left hemisphere, whereas the English phonemes were mainly perceived in the right hemisphere. In the second experiment, results showed a correlation between perceptual ability and the intensity of MMF in the right hemisphere. However, there was no correlation in the left hemisphere. This result differed from the left hemispheric dominance of native phonemes. From these results, it was thought that the perceptual mechanism of second languages might differ from that of native languages.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Funatsu, Seiya / Imaizumi, Satoshi / Hashizume, Akira / Kurisu, Kaoru (2003): "Perceptual mechanisms of second language phonemes: an MEG study", In ICPhS-15, 2537-2540.