Refereed journal article or data article (A1)

Brain responses reveal hardwired detection of native-language rule violations

List of AuthorsOlli Aaltonen, Åke Hellström, Maija S. Peltola, Janne Savela, Henna Tamminen, Heidi Lehtola


Publication year2008

JournalNeuroscience Letters

Volume number444

Issue number1

Start page56

End page59

Number of pages4




Mismatch negativity (MMN) is a neural correlate of the preattentive detection of any change in the acoustic characteristics of sounds. Herewe provide evidence that violations of a purely phonological constraint in a listener’s native language can also elicit the brain’s automatic change-detection response. The MMN differed between Finnish and Estonian listeners, conditions being equal except for the native language of the listeners. We used two experimental conditions: synthetic vowels in isolation and the same vowels embedded in a pseudo-word context. MMN responses to isolated vowels were similar for Finns and Estonians, while the same vowels in a pseudoword context elicited different MMN patterns depending on the listener’s mother tongue.

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