Word onset phonetic properties and motor artifacts in speech production EEG recordings


  • Fargier Raphael
  • Buerki Audrey
  • Pinet Svetlana
  • Alario F. -Xavier
  • Laganaro Marina


  • Motor artefact
  • EEG Methods
  • Speech production
  • Picture naming
  • Phonetics

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Electrophysiological research using verbal response paradigms faces the problem of muscle artifacts that occur during speech production or in the period preceding articulation. In this context, this paper has two related aims. The first is to show how the nature of the first phoneme influences the alignment of the ERPs. The second is to further characterize the EEG signal around the onset of articulation, both in temporal and frequency domains. Participants were asked to name aloud pictures of common objects. We applied microstate analyses and time-frequency transformations of ERPs locked to vocal onset to compare the EEG signal between voiced and unvoiced labial plosive word onset consonants. We found a delay of about 40 ms in the set of stable topographic patterns for /b/ relative to /p/ onset words. A similar shift was observed in the power increase of gamma oscillations (30-50 Hz), which had an earlier onset for /p/ trials (similar to 150 ms before vocal onset). This 40-ms shift is consistent with the length of the voiced proportion of the acoustic signal prior to the release of the closure in the vocal responses. These results demonstrate that phonetic features are an important parameter affecting response-locked ERPs, and hence that the onset of the acoustic energy may not be an optimal trigger for synchronizing the EEG activity to the response in vocal paradigms. The indexes explored in this study provide a step forward in the characterization of muscle-related artifacts in electrophysiological studies of speech and language production.

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