Inadequate and infrequent are not alike: ERPs to deviant prosodic patterns in spoken sentence comprehension

Brain Lang. 2008 Feb;104(2):159-69. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2007.03.005. Epub 2007 Apr 10.


The current study on German investigates Event-Related brain Potentials (ERPs) for the perception of sentences with intonations which are infrequent (i.e. vocatives) or inadequate in daily conversation. These ERPs are compared to the processing correlates for sentences in which the syntax-to-prosody relations are congruent and used frequently during communication. Results show that perceiving an adequate but infrequent prosodic structure does not result in the same brain responses as encountering an inadequate prosodic pattern. While an early negative-going ERP followed by an N400 were observed for both the infrequent and the inadequate syntax-to-prosody association, only the inadequate intonation also elicits a P600.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Comprehension / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Speech Perception / physiology*