Abstract

Chunking language has been proposed to be vital for comprehension enabling the extraction of meaning from a continuous stream of speech. However, neurocognitive mechanisms of chunking are poorly understood. The present study investigated neural correlates of chunk boundaries intuitively identified by listeners in natural speech drawn from linguistic corpora using magneto-and electroencephalography (MEEG). In a behavioral experiment, subjects marked chunk boundaries in the excerpts intuitively, which revealed highly consistent chunk boundary markings across the subjects. We next recorded brain activity to investigate whether chunk boundaries with high and medium agreement rates elicit distinct evoked responses compared to non-boundaries. Pauses placed at chunk boundaries elicited a closure positive shift with the sources over bilateral auditory cortices. In contrast, pauses placed within a chunk were perceived as interruptions and elicited a biphasic emitted potential with sources located in the bilateral primary and non-primary auditory areas with right-hemispheric dominance, and in the right inferior frontal cortex. Furthermore, pauses placed at stronger boundaries elicited earlier and more prominent activation over the left hemisphere suggesting that brain responses to chunk boundaries of natural speech can be modulated by the relative strength of different linguistic cues, such as syntactic structure and prosody.
Original languageEnglish
Article number119203
JournalNeuroImage
Volume255
Number of pages14
ISSN1053-8119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Natural speech
  • Chunking
  • Interruptions
  • MEG
  • EEG
  • Emitted potential
  • Closure positive shift
  • HUMAN AUDITORY-CORTEX
  • PREFRONTAL CORTEX
  • BRAIN RESPONSES
  • TEMPORAL WINDOW
  • LANGUAGE
  • PROSODY
  • INTEGRATION
  • COMPREHENSION
  • SEGMENTATION
  • OSCILLATIONS
  • 6121 Languages
  • 3112 Neurosciences

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