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Working memory and not acoustic sensitivity is related to stress processing ability in a foreign language: An ERP study


Schwab, Sandra; Giroud, Nathalie; Meyer, Martin; Dellwo, Volker (2020). Working memory and not acoustic sensitivity is related to stress processing ability in a foreign language: An ERP study. Journal of Neurolinguistics, 55:100897.

Abstract

Listeners in fixed-stress languages are less sensitive in processing stress contrasts in a second language with contrastive stress (stress 'deafness'). We investigated whether native speakers of French (fixed-stress language) can acquire the ability to distinguish stress contrasts in Spanish (free-stress language). In behavioral experiments, we found that French listeners were able to improve their ability to discriminate stress contrasts in Spanish after a 4-h training. This indicates that French listeners' stress detection disadvantage can be reduced by a short exposure to L2 stress contrasts. An ERP experiment administered after the training evidenced that the larger the P3b amplitude, the better the listeners' training outcome. In contrast, listeners' performance was not reflected by the N2b amplitude. In other words, listeners with high performance after training showed similar auditory sensitivity to stress in comparison to listeners with poor performance, but they better maintained stress information in working memory, as indicated by the larger amplitude of P3b. The present research indicates that individual differences in working memory processing should be considered in the acquisition of second language prosody.

Abstract

Listeners in fixed-stress languages are less sensitive in processing stress contrasts in a second language with contrastive stress (stress 'deafness'). We investigated whether native speakers of French (fixed-stress language) can acquire the ability to distinguish stress contrasts in Spanish (free-stress language). In behavioral experiments, we found that French listeners were able to improve their ability to discriminate stress contrasts in Spanish after a 4-h training. This indicates that French listeners' stress detection disadvantage can be reduced by a short exposure to L2 stress contrasts. An ERP experiment administered after the training evidenced that the larger the P3b amplitude, the better the listeners' training outcome. In contrast, listeners' performance was not reflected by the N2b amplitude. In other words, listeners with high performance after training showed similar auditory sensitivity to stress in comparison to listeners with poor performance, but they better maintained stress information in working memory, as indicated by the larger amplitude of P3b. The present research indicates that individual differences in working memory processing should be considered in the acquisition of second language prosody.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
Social Sciences & Humanities > Linguistics and Language
Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Linguistics and Language, Experimental and Cognitive Psychology, Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous), Cognitive Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:1 August 2020
Deposited On:19 Mar 2020 11:08
Last Modified:29 Jul 2020 14:55
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0911-6044
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroling.2020.100897

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