Listening with great expectations: An investigation of word form anticipations in naturalistic speech

Martijn Bentum, L. ten Bosch, A. van den Bosch, Mirjam Ernestus

Research output: Chapter in book/volumeContribution to conference proceedingsScientificpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The event-related potential (ERP) component named phonological mismatch negativity (PMN) arises when listeners hear an unexpected word form in a spoken sentence [1]. The PMN is thought to reflect the mismatch between expected and perceived auditory speech input. In this paper, we use the PMN to test a central premise in the predictive coding framework [2], namely that the mismatch between prior expectations and sensory input is an important mechanism of perception. We test this with natural speech materials containing approximately 50,000 word tokens. The corresponding EEG-signal was recorded while participants (n = 48) listened to these materials. Following [3], we quantify the mismatch with two word probability distributions (WPD): a WPD based on preceding context, and a WPD that is additionally updated based on the incoming audio of the current word. We use the between-WPD cross entropy for each word in the utterances and show that a higher cross entropy correlates with a more negative PMN. Our results show that listeners anticipate auditory input while processing each word in naturalistic speech. Moreover, complementing previous research, we show that predictive language processing occurs across the whole probability spectrum.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProc. Interspeech 2019
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2019


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