Pre-attentive auditory processing of lexicality

Thomas Jacobsen, János Horváth, Erich Schröger, Sonja Lattner, Andreas Widmann, István Winkler

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59 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of lexicality on auditory change detection based on auditory sensory memory representations were investigated by presenting oddball sequences of repeatedly presented stimuli, while participants ignored the auditory stimuli. In a cross-linguistic study of Hungarian and German participants, stimulus sequences were composed of words that were language-familiar, lexical, meaningful in Hungarian but language-unfamiliar, not lexical, meaningless in German, and words with the opposite characteristics. The roles of frequently presented stimuli (Standards) and infrequently presented one (Deviants) were fully crossed. Language-familiar and language-unfamiliar Deviants elicited the Mismatch Negativity component of the event-related brain potential. We found differences in processes of change detection depending on whether the Standard was language-familiar, or not. Whereas, the lexicality of the Deviant had no effect on the processes of change detection. Also, language-familiar Standards processed differently than language-unfamiliar ones. We suggest that pre-attentive (default) tuning to meaningful words sets up language-specific preparatory processes that affect change detection in speech sequences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-67
Number of pages14
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004



  • Auditory sensory memory
  • Event-related potentials (ERP)
  • Lexical processing
  • Mismatch Negativity (MMN)
  • Speech comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing

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