Volume 115, Issue 6, June 2004
Index of content:
- SPEECH PERCEPTION 
115(2004); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1701898View Description Hide Description
Recent findings in the domains of word and talker recognition reveal that listeners use previous experience with an individual talker’s voice to facilitate subsequent perceptual processing of that talker’s speech. These findings raise the possibility that listeners are sensitive to talker-specific acoustic-phonetic properties. The present study tested this possibility directly by examining listeners’ sensitivity to talker differences in the voice-onset-time (VOT) associated with a word-initial voiceless stop consonant. Listeners were trained on the speech of two talkers. Speech synthesis was used to manipulate the VOTs of these talkers so that one had short VOTs and the other had long VOTs (counterbalanced across listeners). The results of two experiments using a paired-comparison task revealed that, when presented with a short- versus long-VOT variant of a given talker’s speech, listeners could select the variant consistent with their experience of that talker’s speech during training. This was true when listeners were tested on the same word heard during training and when they were tested on a different word spoken by the same talker, indicating that listeners generalized talker-specific VOT information to a novel word. Such sensitivity to talker-specific acoustic-phonetic properties may subserve at least in part listeners’ capacity to benefit from talker-specific experience.
Adult–child differences in acoustic cue weighting are influenced by segmental context: Children are not always perceptually biased toward transitions115(2004); http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.1738838View Description Hide Description
It has been proposed that young children may have a perceptual preference for transitional cues [Nittrouer, S. (2002). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 112, 711–719]. According to this proposal, this preference can manifest itself either as heavier weighting of transitional cues by children than by adults, or as heavier weighting of transitional cues than of other, more static, cues by children. This study tested this hypothesis by examining adults’ and children’s cue weighting for the contrasts /saɪ/-/∫aɪ/, /de/-/be/, /ta/-/da/, and /ti/-/di/. Children were found to weight transitions more heavily than did adults for the fricative contrast /saɪ/-/∫aɪ/, and were found to weight transitional cues more heavily than nontransitional cues for the voice-onset-time contrast /ta/-/da/. However, these two patterns of cue weighting were not found to hold for the contrasts /de/-/be/ and /ti/-/di/. Consistent with several studies in the literature, results suggest that children do not always show a bias towards vowel–formant transitions, but that cue weighting can differ according to segmental context, and possibly the physical distinctiveness of available acoustic cues.