Moore-Cantwell et al. 2023: Violations of Lab-Learned Phonological Patterns Elicit a Late Positive Component

Linguistics PhD alums Claire Moore-Cantwell (’16) and Robert Staubs (’14), along with Joe Pater and Psychological and Brain Sciences faculty Lisa Sanders and PhD alum Ben Zobel have published a paper in Language and Speech. The UMass library link and abstract are below. (This is an ahead of print on-line publication).


The experimental study of artificial language learning has become a widely used means of investigating the predictions of theories of language learning and representation. Although much is now known about the generalizations that learners make from various kinds of data, relatively little is known about how those representations affect speech processing. This paper presents an event-related potential (ERP) study of brain responses to violations of lab-learned phonotactics. Novel words that violated a learned phonotactic constraint elicited a larger Late Positive Component (LPC) than novel words that satisfied it. Similar LPCs have been found for violations of natively acquired linguistic structure, as well as for violations of other types of abstract generalizations, such as musical structure. We argue that lab-learned phonotactic generalizations are represented abstractly and affect the evaluation of speech in a manner that is similar to natively acquired syntactic and phonological rules.