Investigating the neural correlates of phonological encoding using a cluster-based analysis approach

Jayanthi Sasisekaran, Ricky Chow, Philip Burton, Claude Alain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Phonological encoding, a subprocess in speech production, proceeds incrementally from word onset to offset. However, the incremental nature of encoding for multisyllabic words is unclear, and limited research has examined neural activity underlying the seriality of the process. In the present study, we investigated the timing of encoding between and within syllables of bisyllabic words using a data-driven cluster-based analysis of electroencephalography (EEG) data. In a phoneme-monitoring task, young adults covertly named pictures of bisyllabic words with a prespecified target phoneme present or absent. Target phonemes in target-present trials were distributed among four serial positions of the word concept: first syllable (S1) onset or offset and second syllable (S2) onset or offset. Upon covert naming, participants responded to target presence via button press or withheld responses for target absence. Neuroelectric activity during task performance was recorded using EEG and analyzed using cluster-based permutation testing. Faster response times and differences in neural activity were observed for monitoring targets at S1 onset than S2 onset, and for monitoring targets at S1 onset than S1 offset. No differences were found between monitoring targets at S2 onset and S2 offset. Our study supports the incremental nature of phonological encoding in bisyllabic words. Furthermore, the neural findings confirm that the serial time course of encoding in bisyllabic words extends to phonemes within the first, but not the subsequent syllable. Findings may have implications for current models of speech production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1605
Pages (from-to)373-377
Number of pages5
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • electroencephalography
  • phoneme-monitoring
  • phonological encoding

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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