On-line perception of Mandarin Tones 2 and 3: Evidence from eye movements

Jing Shen*, Diana Deutsch, Keith Rayner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Using the visual world paradigm, the present study investigated on-line processing of fine-grained pitch information prior to lexical access in a tone language; specifically how lexical tone perception of Mandarin Tones 2 and 3 was influenced by the pitch height of the tone at onset, turning point, and offset. Native speakers of Mandarin listened to manipulated tone tokens and selected the corresponding word from four visually presented words (objects in Experiment 1 and characters in Experiment 2) while their eye movements were monitored. The results showed that 87 of ultimate tone judgments were made according to offset pitch height. Tokens with high offset pitch were identified as Tone 2, and low offset pitch as Tone 3. A low turning point pitch served as a pivotal cue for Tone 3, and prompted more eye fixations on Tone 3 items, until the offset pitch directed significantly more fixations to the final tone choice. The findings support the view that lexical tone perception is an incremental process, in which pitch height at critical points serves as an important cue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3016-3029
Number of pages14
Journaljournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


Dive into the research topics of 'On-line perception of Mandarin Tones 2 and 3: Evidence from eye movements'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this