When Alice in Wonderland has an accent: The effects of accented speech on attentional networks

When Alice in Wonderland has an accent: The effects of accented speech on attentional networks


Mireia Hernández1, Noelia Ventura-Campos2, Albert Costa1, 3, Anna Miró-Padilla4 and César Ávila4


1. Center for Brain and Cognition. Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Barcelona. Spain.

2. Department of Mathematics Teaching. Faculty of Teacher Training. Universitat de València. València. Spain


4. Neuropsychology and Functional Imaging Group. Universitat Jaume I, Castellón, Spain


Prior fMRI studies have shown that neural activity in regions that process the acoustic-phonetic signal is affected by accented speech (e.g. Bestelmeyer et al. 2015). However, the effects of accented-speech processing beyond the perceptual level remain unclear. Using Independent Component Analysis, in the present fMRI study we investigated how our attentional system deals with dialectal-accented messages. To this aim, we used stimuli that are close to daily basis scenarios of speech perception: movie watch. In the scanner, 30 natives of Standard Spanish (that of Madrid) watched scenes from Alice in Wonderland (Burton, 2010). Scenes were presented in three different dubbing conditions: (a) UNACCENTED: participants’ native Spanish dialect (Standard Spanish); (b) ACCENTED: a different Spanish dialect (Mexican Spanish); and (c) UNKNOWN LANGUAGE (Dutch) by way of baseline. Relative to unaccented speech, accented speech perception required greater neural resources to evaluate whether the acoustic-phonetic stimuli matched the native templates (based on Cerebellum-Putamen Network). This drove a preference of the Caudate-Thalamus Network for native-like articulatory processing. More importantly, processing accented dialogs was attentionally more demanding: it recruited attentional networks (the Dorsal Attentional Network, and the Salience Network) more strongly, and allowed less mind-wondering (based on the Precuneus Network).

Mireia Hernández, Noelia Ventura-Campos, Albert Costa, Anna Miró-Padilla & César Ávila