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Activating without Inhibiting: Left-Edge Boundary Tones and Syntactic Processing

Roll, Mikael LU ; Horne, Merle LU and Lindgren, Magnus LU (2011) In Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 23(5). p.1170-1179
Abstract
Right-edge boundary tones have earlier been found to restrict syntactic processing by closing a clause for further integration of incoming words. The role of left-edge intonation, however, has received little attention to date. We show that Swedish left-edge boundary tones selectively facilitate the on-line processing of main clauses, the syntactic structure they are associated with. In spoken Swedish, main clauses are produced with a left-edge boundary tone, which is absent in subordinate clauses. Main and subordinate clauses are further distinguished syntactically by word order when containing sentence adverbs. The effects of tone and word order on the processing of embedded main, subordinate, and neutral clauses (lacking sentence... (More)
Right-edge boundary tones have earlier been found to restrict syntactic processing by closing a clause for further integration of incoming words. The role of left-edge intonation, however, has received little attention to date. We show that Swedish left-edge boundary tones selectively facilitate the on-line processing of main clauses, the syntactic structure they are associated with. In spoken Swedish, main clauses are produced with a left-edge boundary tone, which is absent in subordinate clauses. Main and subordinate clauses are further distinguished syntactically by word order when containing sentence adverbs. The effects of tone and word order on the processing of embedded main, subordinate, and neutral clauses (lacking sentence adverbs) were measured using ERPs. A posterior P600 in embedded main clauses and a smaller P600 in subordinate clauses indicated that embedded clauses with sentence adverbs were structurally less expected than neutral clauses and thus were reanalyzed. The tone functioned as a cue for main clause word order, selectively reducing the P600 in embedded main clauses, without affecting the processing of subordinate or neutral clauses. Its perception was reflected in a right frontal P200 effect. The left-edge boundary tone thus seems to activate a main clause structure, albeit without suppressing alternative structures. The P600 was also preceded by a short positive effect in cases where a left-edge boundary tone was absent. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
volume
23
issue
5
pages
1170 - 1179
publisher
MIT Press
external identifiers
  • PMID:20146592
  • WOS:000289062000013
  • Scopus:78649926370
ISSN
1530-8898
DOI
10.1162/jocn.2010.21430
project
Cognition, Communication and Learning
Grammar, Prosody, Discourse and the Brain. ERP-studies in speech processing
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
cdcf3c90-c51f-4155-8759-642efaed49a2 (old id 1527736)
alternative location
http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/jocn.2010.21430
date added to LUP
2010-01-12 09:21:39
date last changed
2017-01-01 03:08:42
@article{cdcf3c90-c51f-4155-8759-642efaed49a2,
  abstract     = {Right-edge boundary tones have earlier been found to restrict syntactic processing by closing a clause for further integration of incoming words. The role of left-edge intonation, however, has received little attention to date. We show that Swedish left-edge boundary tones selectively facilitate the on-line processing of main clauses, the syntactic structure they are associated with. In spoken Swedish, main clauses are produced with a left-edge boundary tone, which is absent in subordinate clauses. Main and subordinate clauses are further distinguished syntactically by word order when containing sentence adverbs. The effects of tone and word order on the processing of embedded main, subordinate, and neutral clauses (lacking sentence adverbs) were measured using ERPs. A posterior P600 in embedded main clauses and a smaller P600 in subordinate clauses indicated that embedded clauses with sentence adverbs were structurally less expected than neutral clauses and thus were reanalyzed. The tone functioned as a cue for main clause word order, selectively reducing the P600 in embedded main clauses, without affecting the processing of subordinate or neutral clauses. Its perception was reflected in a right frontal P200 effect. The left-edge boundary tone thus seems to activate a main clause structure, albeit without suppressing alternative structures. The P600 was also preceded by a short positive effect in cases where a left-edge boundary tone was absent.},
  author       = {Roll, Mikael and Horne, Merle and Lindgren, Magnus},
  issn         = {1530-8898},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {1170--1179},
  publisher    = {MIT Press},
  series       = {Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience},
  title        = {Activating without Inhibiting: Left-Edge Boundary Tones and Syntactic Processing},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1162/jocn.2010.21430},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2011},
}