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Article

Fast parametric evaluation of central speech-sound processing with mismatch negativity (MMN)

International Journal of Psychophysiology. 2013. Vol. 81. No. 1. P. 103-110.
Pakarinen S., Teinonen T., Shestakova A., Kwond M. S., Kujala T., Hämäläinend H., Näätänen R., Huotilainen M.

The aim of this study was to develop a paradigm for obtaining a multi-feature profile for central auditory processing of different magnitudes of prosodic and phonetic changes in speech sounds. We recorded the MMNs to three vowel identity changes, three magnitudes of changes in intensity, and vowel duration as well as to two magnitudes of pitch changes from semi-synthetic vowels in 34min. Furthermore, we examined how the type and magnitude of deviation affect the size and timing of the MMN. All sound changes elicited statistically significant MMN responses, with the MMNamplitudes increasing with an increase in sound deviance. Importantly, the MMN amplitudes for the vowel changes reflected the differences between the phonemes, as did the MMNs to vowel-duration changes reflect the categorization of these sounds to short and long vowel categories, which are meaningful in the Finnish language. This new multi-feature MMN paradigm is suitable for investigating the central auditory processing of different magnitudes of speech-sound changes and can be used, for instance, in the investigation of pre-attentive phoneme categorization. The paradigm is especially useful for studying speech and language disorders in general, language development, and evolution of phoneme categories early in life, as well as brain plasticity during native or second language learning