Publications by authors named "Maija S Peltola"

10 Publications

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Aging and non-native speech perception: A phonetic training study.

Neurosci Lett 2021 01 16;740:135430. Epub 2020 Oct 16.

Phonetics and Learning, Age & Bilingualism Laboratory (LAB-lab), Department of Future Technologies, University of Turku, Turku, Finland; Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku, Turku, Finland. Electronic address:

Cognitive decline is evident in the elderly and it affects speech perception and foreign language learning. A listen-and-repeat training with a challenging speech sound contrast was earlier found to be effective in young monolingual adults and even in advanced L2 university students at the attentive and pre-attentive levels. This study investigates foreign language speech perception in the elderly with the same protocol used with the young adults. Training effects were measured with attentive behavioural measures (N = 9) and with electroencephalography measuring the pre-attentive mismatch negativity (MMN) response (N = 10). Training was effective in identification, but not in discrimination and there were no changes in the MMN. The most attention demanding perceptual functions which benefit from experience-based linguistic knowledge were facilitated through training, whereas pre-attentive processing was unaffected. The elderly would probably benefit from different training types compared to younger adults.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2020.135430DOI Listing
January 2021

Listen-and-repeat training improves perception of second language vowel duration: Evidence from mismatch negativity (MMN) and N1 responses and behavioral discrimination.

Int J Psychophysiol 2020 01 16;147:72-82. Epub 2019 Nov 16.

Department of Future Technologies, University of Turku, Koskenniemenkatu 4, 20014, Finland; Phonetics and Learning, Age & Bilingualism laboratory (LAB-lab), University of Turku, Koskenniemenkatu 4, 20014, Finland. Electronic address:

The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of three days of listen-and-repeat training on the perception and production of vowel duration contrasts. Generalization to an untrained vowel and a non-linguistic sound was also examined. Twelve adults underwent four sessions of listen-and-repeat training over two days with the pseudoword contrast /tite/-/ti:te/. Generalization effects were examined with another vowel contrast, /tote/-/to:te/ and a sinusoidal tone pair as a non-linguistic stimulus. Learning effects were measured with psychophysiological (EEG) event-related potentials (mismatch negativity and N1), behavioral discrimination tasks and production tasks. The results showed clear improvement in all perception measurements for the trained stimuli. The effects also affected the untrained vowel by eliciting an N1 response, and affected the behavioral perception of the non-linguistic stimuli. The MMN response for the untrained linguistic stimuli, however, did not increase. These findings suggest that the training was able to increase the sensitivity of preattentive auditory duration discrimination, but that phoneme-specific spectral information may also be needed to shape the neural representation of phoneme categories.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2019.11.005DOI Listing
January 2020

Phonetic training and non-native speech perception--New memory traces evolve in just three days as indexed by the mismatch negativity (MMN) and behavioural measures.

Int J Psychophysiol 2015 Jul 6;97(1):23-9. Epub 2015 May 6.

Cognitive Brain Research Unit (CBRU), P.O. Box 9, Cognitive Science, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland; Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu, Estonia; Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience (CFIN), University of Århus, Denmark. Electronic address:

Language-specific, automatically responding memory traces form the basis for speech sound perception and new neural representations can also evolve for non-native speech categories. The aim of this study was to find out how a three-day phonetic listen-and-repeat training affects speech perception, and whether it generates new memory traces. We used behavioural identification, goodness rating, discrimination, and reaction time tasks together with mismatch negativity (MMN) brain response registrations to determine the training effects on native Finnish speakers. We trained the subjects the voicing contrast in fricative sounds. Fricatives are not differentiated by voicing in Finnish, i.e., voiced fricatives do not belong to the Finnish phonological system. Therefore, they are extremely hard for Finns to learn. However, only after three days of training, the native Finnish subjects had learned to perceive the distinction. The results show striking changes in the MMN response; it was significantly larger on the second day after two training sessions. Also, the majority of the behavioural indicators showed improvement during training. Identification altered after four sessions of training and discrimination and reaction times improved throughout training. These results suggest remarkable language-learning effects both at the perceptual and pre-attentive neural level as a result of brief listen-and-repeat training in adult participants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2015.04.020DOI Listing
July 2015

Phonological processing differences in bilinguals and monolinguals.

Int J Psychophysiol 2013 Jan 13;87(1):8-12. Epub 2012 Oct 13.

Department of Phonetics, University of Turku, Finland; Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Turku, Finland.

The present study examined whether monolinguals and balanced bilinguals perceive speech sounds similarly or whether the two phonological systems in bilinguals interact so that one language is affected by the other. Two groups, monolingual native speakers of Finnish and balanced Finnish-Swedish bilinguals, were tested. We measured mismatch negativity (MMN) responses and used individually selected, native language, stimuli. The results revealed that balanced bilinguals had a significantly longer MMN latency than the monolinguals which suggests slower and weaker preattentive processing in the bilinguals. This implies that the two phonological systems are intertwined which decreases the access of exemplars.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2012.10.003DOI Listing
January 2013

Different kinds of bilinguals: different kinds of brains: the neural organisation of two languages in one brain.

Brain Lang 2012 Jun 21;121(3):261-6. Epub 2012 Apr 21.

Department of Phonetics, University of Turku, Finland.

The aim of this study was to determine whether the type of bilingualism affects neural organisation. We performed identification experiments and mismatch negativity (MMN) registrations in Finnish and Swedish language settings to see, whether behavioural identification and neurophysiological discrimination of vowels depend on the linguistic context, and whether there is a difference between two kinds of bilinguals. The stimuli were two vowels, which differentiate meaning in Finnish, but not in Swedish. The results indicate that Balanced Bilinguals are inconsistent in identification performance, and they have a longer MMN latency. Moreover, their MMN amplitude is context-independent, while Dominant Bilinguals show a larger MMN in the Finnish context. These results indicate that Dominant Bilinguals inhibit the preattentive discrimination of native contrast in a context where the distinction is non-phonemic, but this is not possible for Balanced Bilinguals. This implies that Dominant Bilinguals have separate systems, while Balanced Bilinguals have one inseparable system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bandl.2012.03.007DOI Listing
June 2012

Brain responses reveal hardwired detection of native-language rule violations.

Neurosci Lett 2008 Oct 9;444(1):56-9. Epub 2008 Aug 9.

Department of Speech Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland.

Mismatch negativity (MMN) is a neural correlate of the preattentive detection of any change in the acoustic characteristics of sounds. Here we 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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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2008.07.095DOI Listing
October 2008

The effect of language immersion education on the preattentive perception of native and non-native vowel contrasts.

J Psycholinguist Res 2007 Jan;36(1):15-23

Department of Phonetics, University of Turku, Assistentinkatu 7 (CCN, Publicum), Turku 20014, Finland.

Proficiency in a second language (L2) may depend upon the age of exposure and the continued use of the mother tongue (L1) during L2 acquisition. The effect of early L2 exposure on the preattentive perception of native and non-native vowel contrasts was studied by measuring the mismatch negativity (MMN) response from 14-year-old children. The test group consisted of six Finnish children who had participated in English immersion education. The control group consisted of eight monolingual Finns. The subjects were presented with Finnish and English synthetic vowel contrasts. The aim was to see whether early exposure had resulted in the development of a new language-specific memory trace for the contrast phonemically irrelevant in L1. The results indicated that only the contrast with the largest acoustic distance elicited an MMN response in the Bilingual group, while the Monolingual group showed a response also to the native contrast. This may suggest that native-like memory traces for prototypical vowels were not formed in early language immersion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10936-006-9030-yDOI Listing
January 2007

Early exposure to non-native language alters pre-attentive vowel discrimination.

Neurosci Lett 2005 Nov;388(3):121-5

Department of Phonetics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland.

The present study examined whether early exposure in language immersion would result in better pre-attentive discrimination of non-native speech sound contrasts. Mismatch negativity (MMN) responses were measured from two groups of Finnish children. The Monolingual group had no prior exposure to other languages than the native one, while the Immersion group consisted of children attending a French immersion program. The subjects were presented with two vowel contrasts in the oddball paradigm: the first pair was phonemic in the native language and the second was a within category pair in Finnish, but phonological in French. The results revealed that the Monolingual group showed a larger response to the native contrast in comparison with the non-native one, whereas both contrasts elicited a similar response in the Immersion group. These results suggest that early exposure to a new language enhances the pre-attentive discrimination ability reflected in increased MMN amplitude.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2005.06.037DOI Listing
November 2005

Native and foreign vowel discrimination as indexed by the mismatch negativity (MMN) response.

Neurosci Lett 2003 Nov;352(1):25-8

Department of Phonetics, University of Turku, FIN-20014 Turku, Finland.

The development of a new vowel category was studied by measuring both automatic mismatch negativity and conscious behavioural target discrimination. Three groups, nai;ve Finns, advanced Finnish students of English, and native speakers of English, were presented with one pair of Finnish and three pairs of English synthetic vowels. The aim was to determine whether the advanced student group would show native-like responses to the unfamiliar vowel contrasts of the target language. The results suggest that learning in classroom environment may not lead to the formation of new long-term native-like memory traces.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2003.08.013DOI Listing
November 2003

Stability of memory traces for speech sounds in cochlear implant patients.

Logoped Phoniatr Vocol 2002 ;27(3):132-8

Department of Audiology, Turku University Hospital, Kiinamyllynkatu 3, 20100 Turku, Finland.

For this study, we examined the perception and production of vowels by postlingually deafened patients with cochlear implant. Four patients and one normally hearing subject produced typical vowel sounds of Finnish by using a speech synthesizer. Also acoustic analyses of the pronounced vowels were made. The first (F1) and the second (F2) formant frequencies were measured. The mismatch negativity (MMN), a cortical cognitive auditory event related potential, was used to measure objectively the patients' preattentive discrimination of a prototypical /i/ sound from deviants differing in the F2 continuum. In the phonetic tests the hyperspace effect was seen also among the patients. The MMN, which reflects the phonetic discrimination ability, could be identified from the patient with the best vowel perception abilities. The phonetic memory traces once developed for vowels seem to remain quite stable even though they have not been activated by vowel information for years.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/140154302760834868DOI Listing
April 2003