Paying attention to one speaker in a noisy place can be extremely difficult, because tobe- attended and task-irrelevant speech compete for processing resources. We tested whether this competition is restricted to acoustic-phonetic interference or if it extends to competition for linguistic processing as well. Neural activity was recorded using Magnetoencephalography as human participants were instructed to attend to natural speech presented to one ear, and taskirrelevant stimuli were presented to the other. Task-irrelevant stimuli consisted either of random sequences of syllables, or syllables structured to form coherent sentences, using hierarchical frequency-tagging. We find that the phrasal structure of structured task-irrelevant stimuli was represented in the neural response in left inferior frontal and posterior parietal regions, indicating that selective attention does not fully eliminate linguistic processing of task-irrelevant speech. Additionally, neural tracking of to-be-attended speech in left inferior frontal regions was enhanced when competing with structured task-irrelevant stimuli, suggesting inherent competition between them for linguistic processing.
|State||Published - May 2021|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was funded by Binational Science Foundation (BSF) grant # 2015385 and ISF grant #2339/ 20. We would like to thank Dr. Nai Ding for helpful comments on a previous version of this paper.
Israel Science Foundation 2339/20 Elana Zion Golumbic United States - Israel Binational Science Foundation 2015385 Elana Zion Golumbic.
© Har-shai Yahav and Zion Golumbic.