B01: Prosodic cue variability: Effects on spoken language comprehension and production in different populations

This project investigates the limits of intra- and inter-individual variability in the comprehension and production of prosodic cues in structurally ambiguous sentences or utterances. We aim to characterize in more depth the internal organization of the prosody-syntax-interface as part of the mental grammar and to specify neuro-cognitive models of prosody processing. Specifically, we focus on the limits of variability in prosody production and prosody comprehension using different linguistic structures (coordinate name sequences, locally/globally ambiguous sentences) in different populations (healthy young and elderly adults, individuals with left or right hemispheric brain damage).

We found a rather stable linguistic behaviour in the production of prosodic cues in coordinate name sequences, both with or without internal grouping, in younger adults: prosodic cues (i.e., pre-boundary lengthening, f0-rise, pause) are used in a relatively consistent way to mark the internal grouping of name sequences across individuals and within individuals (i.e., when talking to different interlocutors). Furthermore, all three prosodic cues seem to be relevant, none of them is used in isolation to mark the underlying syntactic structure. We conclude that prosodic cues are resistant to influences of cognitive factors (inter-individual differences) and/or social situations (intra-individual differences, e.g., when talking to different interlocutors). Our data are in line with the Proximity/Similarity-Model of Kentner & Fery (2013, The Linguistic Review). Regarding the prosodic realization and differentiation of locally ambiguous OVS and SVO sentences, we find a more variable behaviour: only some speakers use specific f0 contours to distinguish between these sentence types. Furthermore, for those speakers who used specific f0 contours to distinguish between the two sentences types, we found a high inter- and intra-individual variability with respect to the distinctive f0 contours they employed. In individuals with right- and left-hemispheric lesions, we find that both groups are impaired in the comprehension and production of prosodic cues (pre-boundary lengthening, f0-rise, pause) in coordinate sequences. In comprehension, we found both groups of participants to mainly rely on the pause cue (in line with Aasland & Baum, 2003, Brain and Language). Comprehension and production of prosodic cues were found to markedly vary between participants. Additionally, some individuals’ performance in comprehension clearly differed from their production of prosodic cues. These findings speak against clear lateralization hypotheses of prosody to either the left or right hemisphere.

Staff

Prof. Dr. Isabell Wartenburger

PI B01

 

Campus Golm
Department Linguistics
Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 24-25, House 14, Room 2.39
14476 Potsdam

Dr. Sandra Hanne

PI B01

 

Campus Golm
Department Linguistics
Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 24-25, House 14, Room 2.02
14476 Potsdam

Dr. Carola de Beer

 

Campus Golm
Department Linguistics
Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 24-25, House 14, Room 2.04
14476 Potsdam

Clara Huttenlauch

 

Campus Golm
Department Linguistics
Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 24-25, House 14, Room 2.04
14476 Potsdam

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Invited talks & conference presentations