Neural substrates of subphonemic variation and lexical competition in spoken word recognition
Blumstein, Sheila E.
Myers, Emily B.
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Sahil Luthra, Sara Guediche, Sheila E. Blumstein & Emily B. Myers (2019) Neural substrates of subphonemic variation and lexical competition in spoken word recognition, Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 34:2, 151-169, DOI: 10.1080/23273798.2018.1531140
In spoken word recognition, subphonemic variation influences lexical activation, with sounds near a category boundary increasing phonetic competition as well as lexical competition. The current study investigated the interplay of these factors using a visual world task in which participants were instructed to look at a picture of an auditory target (e.g. peacock). Eyetracking data indicated that participants were slowed when a voiced onset competitor (e.g. beaker) was also displayed, and this effect was amplified when acoustic-phonetic competition was increased. Simultaneously-collected fMRI data showed that several brain regions were sensitive to the presence of the onset competitor, including the supramarginal, middle temporal, and inferior frontal gyri, and functional connectivity analyses revealed that the coordinated activity of left frontal regions depends on both acoustic-phonetic and lexical factors. Taken together, results suggest a role for frontal brain structures in resolving lexical competition, particularly as atypical acoustic-phonetic information maps on to the lexicon.