Language context and phonetic change detection

István Winkler, Teija Kujala, Paavo Alku, Risto Näätänen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)


Event-related brain potentials (ERP) were recorded to two spoken words, /pæti/ and /peti/. The vowel difference between the two words results in a semantical difference in Finnish, but not in Hungarian, in which /æ/ and /e/ are perceived as allophones of the same vowel /ε/. As a consequence, native Hungarian speakers, who had not studied Finnish before being tested, could not categorize the two word stimuli. In the main experiment, native Hungarian speakers, who fluently spoke Finnish, were presented with two oddball sequences in which /pæti/ was the frequent standard stimulus, /peti/ the infrequent deviant. In addition, very rare target words were also included. In one condition, the targets were Hungarian words, whereas in the other, they were Finnish words. The participants' sense of being in two different language environments was further encouraged by having separate experimenters conducting the two conditions, one speaking with the subjects only in Hungarian, the other only in Finnish. Language context had no effect on the mismatch negativity ERP component elicited by the deviant word stimuli. This result suggests that language context does not affect the pre-attentive detection of auditory deviance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)833-844
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Brain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2003


  • Cognition
  • Context
  • Deviance detection
  • ERP
  • Language
  • Mismatch negativity (MMN)
  • N2b
  • Neural basis of behavior
  • P3a
  • Speech processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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