One-week phonemic training rebuilds the memory traces of merged phonemes in merged speakers

Mi Tang, Zheng-Lan Huang, Fei Zhong, Jing-Lan Xiang, Xiao-Dong Wang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The phonemic merger is a unique phenomenon which is referred to as acoustically very different phonemes are recognized as the same phoneme. In our previous study, we demonstrated that the merged speakers had lost the ability to discriminate the merged phonemes pre-attentively, as revealed by their failure in mismatch negativity (MMN) elicitation in the oddball stream of the merged phonemes /n/-/l/. In this study, we investigated the recovery of the discrimination ability via phonemic training and found that the merged speakers regained the ability of discriminating merged phonemes pre-attentively, after a 7-day /n/-/l/ phonemic training, as revealed by the reactivation of MMN brain response to the /n/-/l/ phoneme categories. Our finding indicates that separate memory traces of merged phonemes could be rebuilt during the training process.

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Original languageEnglish
Article number 146848
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2020
Externally publishedYes

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