The Neural Correlates Underlying Lexically-Guided Perceptual Learning

Odette Scharenborg, Jiska Koemans, Cybelle Smith, Mark A. Hasegawa-Johnson, Kara D. Federmeier

There is ample evidence showing that listeners are able to quickly adapt their phoneme classes to ambiguous sounds using a process called lexically-guided perceptual learning. This paper presents the first attempt to examine the neural correlates underlying this process. Specifically, we compared the brain’s responses to ambiguous [f/s] sounds in Dutch non-native listeners of English (N=36) before and after exposure to the ambiguous sound to induce learning, using Event-Related Potentials (ERPs). We identified a group of participants who showed lexically-guided perceptual learning in their phonetic categorization behavior as observed by a significant difference in /s/ responses between pretest and posttest and a group who did not. Moreover, we observed differences in mean ERP amplitude to ambiguous phonemes at pretest and posttest, shown by a reliable reduction in amplitude of a positivity over medial central channels from 250 to 550 ms. However, we observed no significant correlation between the size of behavioral and neural pre/posttest effects. Possibly, the observed behavioral and ERP differences between pretest and posttest link to different aspects of the sound classification task. In follow-up research, these differences will be further investigated by assessing their relationship to neural responses to the ambiguous sounds in the exposure phase.

 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2328

Cite as: Scharenborg, O., Koemans, J., Smith, C., Hasegawa-Johnson, M.A., Federmeier, K.D. (2019) The Neural Correlates Underlying Lexically-Guided Perceptual Learning. Proc. Interspeech 2019, 1223-1227, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2019-2328.

  author={Odette Scharenborg and Jiska Koemans and Cybelle Smith and Mark A. Hasegawa-Johnson and Kara D. Federmeier},
  title={{The Neural Correlates Underlying Lexically-Guided Perceptual Learning}},
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2019},