Processing changes when listening to foreign-accented speech

Carlos Romero Rivas, C.D Martin, A Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)
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This study investigates the mechanisms responsible for fast changes in processing foreign-accented speech. Event Related brain Potentials (ERPs) were obtained while native speakers of Spanish listened to native and foreign-accented speakers of Spanish. We observed a less positive P200 component for foreign-accented speech relative to native speech comprehension. This suggests that the extraction of spectral information and other important acoustic features was hampered during foreign-accented speech comprehension. However, the amplitude of the N400 component for foreign-accented speech comprehension decreased across the experiment, suggesting the use of a higher level, lexical mechanism. Furthermore, during native speech comprehension, semantic violations in the critical words elicited an N400 effect followed by a late positivity. During foreign-accented speech comprehension, semantic violations only elicited an N400 effect. Overall, our results suggest that, despite a lack of improvement in phonetic discrimination, native listeners experience changes at lexical-semantic levels of processing after brief exposure to foreign-accented speech. Moreover, these results suggest that lexical access, semantic integration and linguistic re-analysis processes are permeable to external factors, such as the accent of the speaker.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalFrontiers in Human Neuroscience
Early online date25 Mar 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Mar 2015


  • ERPs
  • foreign-accented speech
  • adaptation
  • perceptual learning
  • lexical-semantic processing
  • P200
  • N400
  • P600


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