An fMRI study of the perception of contrastive prosodic focus in French

Marcela Perrone, Marion Dohen, Hélène Loevenbruck, Marc Sato, Cédric Pichat, Gaëtan Yvert, Monica Baciu, Laboratoire de Psychologie et NeuroCognition

This fMRI study deals with the perception of prosodic contrastive focus in French. Twenty-two right-handed French participants listened to two kinds of utterances: with contrastive prosodic focus (Focus) and without (Neutral). The task was to judge whether the utterances contained focus. The Focus vs. Neutral contrast revealed bilateral activation of the inferior frontal, superior and middle temporal, premotor cortex and supramarginal gyri, as well as of the superior parietal lobule and anterior insula. Among these regions, the inferior frontal and supramarginal gyri, as well as the anterior insula, were significantly more activated to the left. These results suggest that the auditory perception of contrastive prosodic focus involves a large cerebral network which is partially predominant to the left.