Alpha synchronisation of acoustic responses in active listening is indicative of native language listening experience

Alyssa Dyball, Nan Xu Rattanasone, Ronny Ibrahim, Mridula Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: Examine the effect of language experience on auditory evoked and oscillatory brain responses to lexical tone in passive (ACC) and active (P300) listening conditions. 

Design: Language experience was evaluated using two groups, Mandarin- vs. English-listeners (with vs. without lexical tone experience). Two Mandarin lexical tones with pitch movement (T2 rising; T3 dipping) produced on the syllable /ba/ were used as stimuli. For passive listening, each tone was presented in a block. For active listening, each tone was the standard (80%) or deviant (20%) presented in two blocks. Presentation order was counterbalanced across participants in both tasks. 

Study sample: 10 adult Mandarin-listeners and 13 Australian-English-listeners contributed to the data. 

Results: Both global field power (GFP) and time frequency analysis (TFA) failed to detect group differences in passive listening conditions for the ACC response. In contrast, the active listening condition revealed significant group differences for T2. GFP showed a trending significance with larger GFP (less consistent responses) in English- than Mandarin-listeners. TFA showed significantly higher alpha synchronisation (more focussed attention) for Mandarin- compared to English-listeners. 

Conclusions: Acoustic responses to speech is influenced by language experience but only during active listening, suggesting that focussed attention is linked to higher level language processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-499
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number6
Early online date8 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • ACC
  • global field power
  • lexical tone
  • P300
  • time frequency analysis


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