Foreign-accented speech modulates linguistic anticipatory processes

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Abstract

Listeners are able to anticipate upcoming words during sentence comprehension, and, as a result, they also pre-activate semantically related words. In the present study, we aim at exploring whether these anticipatory processes are modulated by indexical properties of the speakers, such as a speaker's accent. Event-related brain potentials were obtained while native speakers of Spanish listened to native (Experiment 1) or foreign-accented speakers (Experiment 2) of Spanish producing highly constrained sentences. The sentences ended in: (1) the highest cloze probability completion, (2) a word semantically related to the expected ending, or (3) a word with no semantic overlap with the expected ending. In Experiment 1, we observed smaller N400 mean amplitudes for the semantically related words as compared to the words with no semantic overlap, replicating previous findings. In Experiment 2, we observed no difference in integrating semantically related and unrelated words when listening to accented speech. These results suggest that linguistic anticipatory processes are affected by indexical properties of the speakers, such as the speaker's accent.

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