Electrophysiological and behavioral measures of some speech contrasts in varied attention and noise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This paper investigates the salience of speech contrasts in noise, in relation to how listening attention affects scalp-recorded cortical responses. The contrasts that were examined with consonant-vowel syllables, were place of articulation, vowel length and voice-onset time (VOT) and our analysis focuses on the correspondence between the effect of attention on the electrophysiology and the decrement in behavioral results when noise was added to the stimuli. Normal-hearing subjects (n = 20) performed closed-set syllable identification in no noise, 0, 4 and 8 dB signal-noise ratio (SNR). Identification in noise decreased markedly for place of articulation, moderately for vowel length and marginally for VOT. The same syllables were used in two electrophysiology conditions, where subjects attended to the stimuli, and also while their attention was diverted to a visual discrimination task. Differences in global field power between the attention conditions from each contrast showed that that the effect of attention was negligible for place of articulation. They implied offset encoding of vowel length and were early (starting at 117 ms), and of high amplitude (>3 μV) for VOT. There were significant correlations between the difference in syllable identification in no noise and 0 dB SNR and the electrophysiology results between attention conditions for the VOT contrast. Comparison of the two attention conditions with microstate analysis showed a significant difference in the duration of microstate class D. These results show differential integration of attention and syllable processing according to speech contrast and they suggest that there is correspondence between the salience of a contrast in noise and the effect of attention on the evoked electrical response.


External organisations
  • University of Copenhagen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics


  • Danish phonology, EEG microstates, Electrophysiology, Global field power, Place of articulation, Speech features, Speech perception, Voice onset time, Vowel length
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalHearing Research
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch