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Intonation processing increases task-specific fronto-temporal connectivity in tonal language speakers

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Chien,  Pei-Ju
International Max Planck Research School on Neuroscience of Communication: Function, Structure, and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Otto Hahn Group Neural Bases of Intonation in Speech, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Friederici,  Angela D.
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Hartwigsen,  Gesa
Lise Meitner Research Group Cognition and Plasticity, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Sammler,  Daniela
Otto Hahn Group Neural Bases of Intonation in Speech, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Chien, P.-J., Friederici, A. D., Hartwigsen, G., & Sammler, D. (2021). Intonation processing increases task-specific fronto-temporal connectivity in tonal language speakers. Human Brain Mapping, 42, 161-174. doi:10.1002/hbm.25214.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-0052-C
Abstract
Language comprehension depends on tight functional interactions between distributed brain regions. While these interactions are established for semantic and syntactic processes, the functional network of speech intonation - the linguistic variation of pitch - has been scarcely defined. Particularly little is known about intonation in tonal languages, in which pitch not only serves intonation but also expresses meaning via lexical tones. The present study used psychophysiological interaction analyses of functional magnetic resonance imaging data to characterise the neural networks underlying intonation and tone processing in native Mandarin Chinese speakers. Participants categorised either intonation or tone of monosyllabic Mandarin words that gradually varied between statement and question and between Tone 2 and Tone 4. Intonation processing induced bilateral fronto-temporal activity and increased functional connectivity between left inferior frontal gyrus and bilateral temporal regions, likely linking auditory perception and labelling of intonation categories in a phonological network. Tone processing induced bilateral temporal activity, associated with the auditory representation of tonal (phonemic) categories. Together, the present data demonstrate the breadth of the functional intonation network in a tonal language including higher-level phonological processes in addition to auditory representations common to both intonation and tone.