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Did you get the beat? Late proficient French-German learners extract strong-weak patterns in tonal but not in linguistic sequences

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Schmidt-Kassow,  Maren
Institute of Medical Psychology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany;
Minerva Research Group Neurocognition of Rhythm in Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Rothermich,  Kathrin
Minerva Research Group Neurocognition of Rhythm in Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Schwartze,  Michael
Minerva Research Group Neurocognition of Rhythm in Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Kotz,  Sonja A.
Minerva Research Group Neurocognition of Rhythm in Communication, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Schmidt-Kassow, M., Rothermich, K., Schwartze, M., & Kotz, S. A. (2011). Did you get the beat? Late proficient French-German learners extract strong-weak patterns in tonal but not in linguistic sequences. NeuroImage, 54(1), 568-576. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.07.062.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0011-2890-E
Abstract
Event-related potential (ERP) data in French and German have shown that metric violations (i.e. incorrectly stressed words) in a sentence elicit a P600. Furthermore, French speakers find it difficult to discriminate stimuli that vary in word stress position and have been labelled as “stress deaf.” In the current study we investigated (i) whether French late learners of German can perceive deviations of a regular strong–weak stress pattern (trochee) in German sentences, and (ii) whether the same subjects differ in their electrophysiological response from German monolinguals in a non-linguistic “subjective rhythmization” paradigm. Irrespective of the native language both groups show similar results in the latter paradigm in which isochronous stimulus trains are subjectively converted into a binary strong–weak grouped percept (trochee). However, we report differences between native and non-native speakers of German in the sentence paradigm. In contrast to German native speakers French late learners of German fail to show a P600 component in response to deviations from a regular trochaic stress pattern, although attention was directed to the metric pattern of the sentences. The current data suggest that French stress deafness selectively affects the perception of a strong–weak pattern in sentences while strong–weak grouping of non-linguistic sequences is not language specific. The results imply that linguistic and non-linguistic grouping do not rely on the same neural mechanisms.