Phonemic and subphonemic cues in prediction

Evidence from ERP, eye-tracking and Danish words with and without stødbasis


  • Anna Hjortdal Lund University
  • Mikael Roll Lund University


The brain is constantly trying to predict the future and phonological and prosodic cues are used to anticipate forthcoming information. Even cues on the subphonemic level such as vowel transitions, nasalisation and assimilation across word boundaries are useful in anticipating upcoming speech. In event-related potential (ERP) studies examining subphonemic and lexical/phonological mismatches, only the latter yielded N400 effects, an ERP component associated with lexical prediction error. The results indicate that phonetic cues are resolved prelexically. However, subphonemic cues still seem to be used in prediction as evidenced by valid cues yielding faster fixations in eye-tracking studies and invalid cues modulating P600 amplitudes, indicating structural violations and context updating.