Speech prosody enhances the neural processing of syntax

  • Human language relies on hierarchically structured syntax to facilitate efficient and robust communication. The correct processing of syntactic information is essential for successful communication between speakers. As an abstract level of language, syntax has often been studied separately from the physical form of the speech signal, thus often masking the interactions that can promote better syntactic processing in the human brain. We analyzed a MEG dataset to investigate how acoustic cues, specifically prosody, interact with syntactic operations. We examined whether prosody enhances the cortical encoding of syntactic representations. We decoded left-sided dependencies directly from brain activity and evaluated possible modulations of the decoding by the presence of prosodic boundaries. Our findings demonstrate that prosodic boundary presence improves the representation of left-sided dependencies, indicating the facilitative role of prosodic cues in processing abstract linguistic features. This study gives neurobiological evidence for the boosting of syntactic processing via interaction with prosody.

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Author:Giulio DeganoORCiD, Peter DonhauserORCiD, Laura GwilliamsORCiD, Paola Merlo, Narly GolestaniORCiD
Parent Title (English):bioRxiv
Document Type:Preprint
Date of Publication (online):2023/07/04
Date of first Publication:2023/07/04
Publishing Institution:Universit├Ątsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/07/05
Page Number:33
Institutes:Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / MPI f├╝r Hirnforschung
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International