Auditory-Phonetic Projection and Lexical Structure in the Recognition of Sine-Wave Words

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Speech remains intelligible despite the elimination of canonical acoustic correlates of phonemes from the spectrum. A portion of this perceptual flexibility can be attributed to modulation sensitivity in the auditory-to-phonetic projection, although signal-independent properties of lexical neighborhoods also affect intelligibility in utterances composed of words. Three tests were conducted to estimate the effects of exposure to natural and sine-wave samples of speech in this kind of perceptual versatility. First, sine-wave versions of the easy and hard word sets were created, modeled on the speech samples of a single talker. The performance difference in recognition of easy and hard words was used to index the perceptual reliance on signal-independent properties of lexical contrasts. Second, several kinds of exposure produced familiarity with an aspect of sine-wave speech: (a) sine-wave sentences modeled on the same talker; (b) sine-wave sentences modeled on a different talker, to create familiarity with a sine-wave carrier; and (c) natural sentences spoken by the same talker, to create familiarity with the idiolect expressed in the sine-wave words. Recognition performance with both easy and hard sine-wave words improved after exposure only to sine-wave sentences modeled on the same talker. Third, a control test showed that signal-independent uncertainty is a plausible cause of differences in recognition of easy and hard sine-wave words. The conditions of beneficial exposure reveal the specificity of attention underlying versatility in speech perception.



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