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Falk, Simone; Volpi-Moncorger, Chloe; Dalla Bella, Simone (2017): Auditory-Motor Rhythms and Speech Processing in French and German Listeners. In: Frontiers in Psychology, Vol. 8, 395
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Abstract

Moving to a speech rhythm can enhance verbal processing in the listener by increasing temporal expectancies (Falk and Dalla Bella, 2016). Here we tested whether this hypothesis holds for prosodically diverse languages such as German (a lexical stress-language) and French (a non-stress language). Moreover, we examined the relation between motor performance and the benefits for verbal processing as a function of language. Sixty-four participants, 32 German and 32 French native speakers detected subtle word changes in accented positions in metrically structured sentences to which they previously tapped with their index finger. Before each sentence, they were cued by a metronome to tap either congruently (i.e., to accented syllables) or incongruently (i.e., to non-accented parts) to the following speech stimulus. Both French and German speakers detected words better when cued to tap congruently compared to incongruent tapping. Detection performance was predicted by participants' motor performance in the non-verbal cueing phase. Moreover, tapping rate while participants tapped to speech predicted detection differently for the two language groups, in particular in the incongruent tapping condition. We discuss our findings in light of the rhythmic differences of both languages and with respect to recent theories of expectancy-driven and multisensory speech processing.