The effect of native-language experience on the sensory-obligatory components, the P1-N1-P2 and the T-complex

Monica Wagner, Valerie L. Shafer, Brett Martin, Mitchell Steinschneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The influence of native-language experience on sensory-obligatory auditory-evoked potentials (AEPs) was investigated in native-English and native-Polish listeners. AEPs were recorded to the first word in nonsense word pairs, while participants performed a syllable identification task to the second word in the pairs. Nonsense words contained phoneme sequence onsets (i.e., /pt/, /pət/, /st/ and /sət/) that occur in the Polish and English languages, with the exception that /pt/ at syllable onset is an illegal phonotactic form in English. P1-N1-P2 waveforms from fronto-central electrode sites were comparable in English and Polish listeners, even though, these same English participants were unable to distinguish the nonsense words having /pt/ and /pət/ onsets. The P1-N1-P2 complex indexed the temporal characteristics of the word stimuli in the same manner for both language groups. Taken together, these findings suggest that the fronto-central P1-N1-P2 complex reflects acoustic feature processing of speech and is not significantly influenced by exposure to the phoneme sequences of the native-language. In contrast, the T-complex from bilateral posterior temporal sites was found to index phonological as well as acoustic feature processing to the nonsense word stimuli. An enhanced negativity for the /pt/ cluster relative to its contrast sequence (i.e., /pət/) occurred only for the Polish listeners, suggesting that neural networks within non-primary auditory cortex may be involved in early cortical phonological processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalBrain research
StatePublished - Jul 19 2013


  • Auditory-evoked potential (AEP)
  • Cross-linguistic
  • P1-N1-P2 complex
  • Phonetic
  • Speech perception
  • T-complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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