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date: 22 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

All languages make use of pitch to signify intonation patterns. Chinese languages, such as Mandarin and Cantonese, additionally use pitch to contrast lexical meanings and are known as tone languages. This chapter addresses the impact of the additional use of lexical tone contrasts on pitch perception, which potentially helps us better understand experience-dependent development of the brain mechanisms underlying human language. It starts with an illustration of lexical tone patterns in Mandarin and Cantonese and discusses how native language experience modulates perception from an interdisciplinary perspective. Two brain imaging methods, electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), are explained as background for understanding the brain mechanisms of tone perception.

Keywords: EEG, fMRI, lexical tone patterns, pitch perception, brain mechanisms, language experience

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