5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

Don't Blame It (All) On The Pause: Further ERP Evidence For A Prosody-Induced Garden-Path In Running Speech

Karsten Steinhauer, Kai Alter, Angela D. Friederici

Max-Planck-Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, Leipzig, Germany

This paper investigates the prosodic relevance of a pause which, along with other prosodic parameters, served to indicate an Intonational Phrase (IPh) boundary. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded while subjects listened to both intact and altered German Early and Late Closure (EC/LC) sentences. The EC sentences were prosodically highly accepted and well comprehended even when the original pause at the boundary position was removed. Furthermore, a reversed garden-path (initial EC preference in LC sentences) was successfully induced by a false IPh boundary irrespective of whether the pause was present or not. The ERP patterns disclosed the on-line processing of simple and garden-path sentences in more detail. The data clearly demonstrate that in the presence of other prosodic parameters pause insertion is a completely dispensable cue for boundary marking. The ERP technique proved to be superior to behavioral on-line measures as data collection does not interrupt speech presentation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Steinhauer, Karsten / Alter, Kai / Friederici, Angela D. (1998): "Don't blame it (all) on the pause: further ERP evidence for a prosody-induced garden-path in running speech", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0147.