Visual information constrains early and late stages of spoken-word recognition in sentence context

TitleVisual information constrains early and late stages of spoken-word recognition in sentence context
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBrunellière A, Sánchez-García C, Ikumi N, Soto-Faraco S
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Date Published07/2013
KeywordsEvent-related potentials, Semantic constraints, Spoken-word recognition, Visual speech

Audiovisual speech perception has been frequently studied considering phoneme, syllable and word processing levels. Here, we examined the constraints that visual speech information might exert during the recognition of words embedded in a natural sentence context. We recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) to words that could be either strongly or weakly predictable on the basis of the prior semantic sentential context and, whose initial phoneme varied in the degree of visual saliency from lip movements. When the sentences were presented audio-visually (Experiment 1), words weakly predicted from semantic context elicited a larger long-lasting N400, compared to strongly predictable words. This semantic effect interacted with the degree of visual saliency over a late part of the N400. When comparing audio-visual versus auditory alone presentation (Experiment 2), the typical amplitude-reduction effect over the auditory-evoked N100 response was observed in the audiovisual modality. Interestingly, a specific benefit of high- versus low-visual saliency constraints occurred over the early N100 response and at the late N400 time window, confirming the result of Experiment 1. Taken together, our results indicate that the saliency of visual speech can exert an influence over both auditory processing and word recognition at relatively late stages, and thus suggest strong interactivity between audio-visual integration and other (arguably higher) stages of information processing during natural speech comprehension.