Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience

Living Edition
| Editors: Dieter Jaeger, Ranu Jung

Electrophysiological Indices of Speech Processing

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7320-6_518-1

Some Core Facts About Event-Related Brain Potentials (ERPs)

Speech and its acoustic and linguistic properties essentially evolve in time (Kotz and Schwartze 2010). Therefore, high-temporal-resolution methods such as the electroencephalography (EEG) or magnetoencephalography (MEG) are well suited to trace the temporal unfolding of the speech signal. In particular, ERPs embedded in the EEG permit speech to be monitored with millisecond resolution. By time-locking and averaging ERPs to a large number of specific and similar speech events, responses to acoustic and linguistic properties of these events can tell us how an event is perceived and understood as it occurs. The resulting wavelike pattern consists of an alteration of positive and negative peaks that, when compared to a control condition, leads to the emergence of components that are defined by their polarity (positive or negative), by the delay after the onset of an event of interest (latency), and by their distribution across...


Target Word Speech Signal N400 Amplitude Sentence Context Speech Intelligibility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Aydelott J, Dick F, Mills DL (2006) Effects of acoustic distortion and semantic context on event-related potentials to spoken words. Psychophysiology 43(5):454–464PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bonte M, Valente G, Formisano E (2009) Dynamic and task-dependent encoding of speech and voice by phase reorganization of cortical oscillations. J Neurosci 29:1699–1706PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boulenger V, Hoen M, Jacquier C, Meunier F (2011) Interplay between acoustic/phonetic and semantic processes during spoken sentence comprehension: an ERP study. Brain Lang 116(2):51–63PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chwilla DJ, Brown CM, Hagoort P (1995) The N400 as a function of the level of processing. Psychophysiology 32(3):274–285PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Friederici AD (2002) Towards a neural basis of auditory sentence processing. Trends Cogn Sci 6(2):78–84PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Holcomb PJ (1988) Automatic and attentional processing: an event-related brain potential analysis of semantic priming. Brain Lang 35(1):66–85PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kotz SA, Schwartze M (2010) Cortical speech processing unplugged: a timely subcortico-cortical framework. Trends Cogn Sci 14(9):392–399PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Kutas M, Federmeier KD (2011) Thirty years and counting: finding meaning in the N400 component of the event-related brain potential (ERP). Annu Rev Psychol 62:621–647PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kutas M, Hillyard SA (1980) Event-related brain potentials to semantically inappropriate and surprisingly large words. Biol Psychol 11(2):99–116PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kutas M, Hillyard SA (1984) Brain potentials during reading reflect word expectancy and semantic association. Nature 307:161–163PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lau EF, Phillips C, Poeppel D (2008) A cortical network for semantics: (de-)constructing the N400. Nat Rev Neurosci 9:920–933PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Luck SJ (2005) An introduction to the event-related potential technique. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  13. Martin BA, Tremblay KL, Kroczak P (2008) Speech evoked potentials: from the laboratory to the clinic. Ear Hearing 29:285–313PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Miettinen I, Tiitinen H, Alku P, May PJ (2010) Sensitivity of the human auditory cortex to acoustic degradation of speech and non-speech sounds. BMC Neurosci 11:24PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Näätänen R (2001) The perception of speech sounds by the human brain as reflected by the mismatch negativity (MMN) and its magnetic equivalent (MMNm). Psychophysiology 38:1–21PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Obleser J, Kotz SA (2010) Expectancy constraints in degraded speech modulate the language comprehension network. Cereb Cortex 20(3):633–640PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Obleser J, Kotz SA (2011) Multiple brain electric signatures of semantic constraints in degraded speech. Neuroimage 55(2):713–723PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Obleser J, Elbert T, Eulitz C (2004) Attentional influences on functional mapping of speech sounds in human auditory cortex. BMC Neurosci 5:24PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Poeppel D, Yellin E, Phillips C, Roberts TP, Rowley HA, Wexler K, Marantz A (1996) Task-induced asymmetry of the auditory evoked M100 neuromagnetic field elicited by speech sounds. Brain Res/Cogn Brain Res 4:231–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Schirmer A, Kotz SA (2006) Beyond the right hemisphere: brain mechanisms mediating vocal emotional processing. Trends Cogn Sci 10(1):24–30PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Scott SK, Johnsrude IS (2003) The neuroanatomical and functional organization of speech perception. Trends Neurosci 26(2):100–107PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Shannon RV, Zeng FG, Kamath V, Wygonski J, Ekelid M (1995) Speech recognition with primarily temporal cues. Science 270:303–304PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sivonen P, Maess B, Lattner S, Friederici AD (2006) Phonemic restoration in a sentence context: evidence from early and late ERP effects. Brain Res 1121:177–189PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Steinschneider M, Dunn M (2002) Electrophysiology in developmental neuropsychology, Chap. 5. In: Segalowitz S, Rapin I (eds) Handbook of neuropsychology, 2 edn, vol 8, part 1. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 91–146Google Scholar
  25. Strauß A, Kotz SA, Obleser J (2013) Narrowed expectancies under degraded speech: revisiting the N400. J Cogn Neurosci 25(8):1383–1395PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Van Berkum JJ, Haggort P, Brown CM (1999) Semantic integration in sentences and discourse: evidence from the N400. J Cogn Neurosci 11(6):657–671PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Van Petten C, Kutas M (1990) Interactions between sentence context and word frequency in event-related potentials. Mem Cognition 18(4):380–393CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychological SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.Max Planck for Human Cognitive and Brain SciencesLeipzigGermany