The phonotactic influence on the perception of a consonant cluster /pt/ by native English and native Polish listeners: A behavioral and event related potential (ERP) study

Monica Wagner, Valerie L. Shafer, Brett Martin, Mitchell Steinschneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


The effect of exposure to the contextual features of the /pt/ cluster was investigated in native-English and native-Polish listeners using behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) methodology. Both groups experience the /pt/ cluster in their languages, but only the Polish group experiences the cluster in the context of word onset examined in the current experiment. The /st/ cluster was used as an experimental control. ERPs were recorded while participants identified the number of syllables in the second word of nonsense word pairs. The results found that only Polish listeners accurately perceived the /pt/ cluster and perception was reflected within a late positive component of the ERP waveform. Furthermore, evidence of discrimination of /pt/ and /pet/ onsets in the neural signal was found even for non-native listeners who could not perceive the difference. These findings suggest that exposure to phoneme sequences in highly specific contexts may be necessary for accurate perception.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-41
Number of pages12
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2012



  • /pt/ Cluster
  • /st/ Cluster
  • Consonant clusters
  • English-Polish
  • Event-related potentials
  • Late positive component
  • Native-language
  • P3a and P3b
  • Phonotactics
  • Speech perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing

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