Cross-modal enhancement of the MMN to speech-sounds indicates early and automatic integration of letters and speech-sounds

D.J.W. Froyen*, N.M. van Atteveldt, M.L. Bonte, L.P.M. Blomert

*Corresponding author for this work

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Recently brain imaging evidence indicated that letter/speech-sound integration, necessary for establishing fluent reading, takes place in auditory association areas and that the integration is influenced by stimulus onset asynchrony (SOA) between the letter and the speech-sound. In the present study, we used a specific ERP measure known for its automatic character, the mismatch negativity (MMN), to investigate the time course and automaticity of letter/speech-sound integration. We studied the effect of visual letters and SOA on the MMN elicited by a deviant speech-sound. We found a clear enhancement of the MMN by simultaneously presenting a letter, but without changing the auditory stimulation. This enhancement diminishes linearly with increasing SOA. These results suggest that letters and speech-sounds are processed as compound stimuli early and automatically in the auditory association cortex of fluent readers and that this processing is strongly dependent on timing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-28
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008

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