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The influence of auditory attention on rhythmic speech entrainment

The influence of auditory attention on rhythmic speech entrainment

Rodika Sokoliuk, Giulio Degano, Lucia Melloni, Uta Noppeney, Damian Cruse

Language comprehension relies on integrating words into progressively more complex structures, like phrases and sentences. This hierarchical structure building is reflected in rhythmic neural activity across multiple timescales in E/MEG (Ding et al., 20162017).

How does selective attention across levels of the hierarchy influence the expression of these rhythms?

We investigated these questions in an EEG study of 72 healthy human volunteers listening to streams of monosyllabic isochronous English words that were either unrelated (scrambled condition) or composed of four-word-sequences building meaningful sentences (sentential condition). Importantly, there were no physical cues between four-word-sentences but boundaries were marked by syntactic structure and thematic role assignment. Participants were divided into three attention groups: from passive listening (passive group) to attending to individual words (word group) or sentences (sentence group). The passive and word group were naïve to the sentential structure of the stimulus material, while the sentence group were not.


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