Processing of word stress related acoustic information: A multi-feature MMN study

Ferenc Honbolygó, Orsolya Kolozsvári, V. Csépe

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4 Citations (Scopus)


In the present study, we investigated the processing of word stress related acoustic features in a word context. In a passive oddball multi-feature MMN experiment, we presented a disyllabic pseudo-word with two acoustically similar syllables as standard stimulus, and five contrasting deviants that differed from the standard in that they were either stressed on the first syllable or contained a vowel change. Stress was realized by an increase of f0, intensity, vowel duration or consonant duration. The vowel change was used to investigate if phonemic and prosodic changes elicit different MMN components. As a control condition, we presented non-speech counterparts of the speech stimuli. Results showed all but one feature (non-speech intensity deviant) eliciting the MMN component, which was larger for speech compared to non-speech stimuli. Two other components showed stimulus related effects: the N350 and the LDN (Late Discriminative Negativity). The N350 appeared to the vowel duration and consonant duration deviants, specifically to features related to the temporal characteristics of stimuli, while the LDN was present for all features, and it was larger for speech than for non-speech stimuli. We also found that the f0 and consonant duration features elicited a larger MMN than other features. These results suggest that stress as a phonological feature is processed based on long-term representations, and listeners show a specific sensitivity to segmental and suprasegmental cues signaling the prosodic boundaries of words. These findings support a two-stage model in the perception of stress and phoneme related acoustical information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-17
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2017



  • ERP
  • Multi-feature MMN
  • Speech perception
  • Word stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)

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