Although talker-specific properties of speech are extremely informative to the listener, differences in the way speech is produced also create enormous variability in spoken language. During the perception of speech, listeners somehow contend with this variability, extracting the same linguistic content even when it occurs in a variety of different forms. Most models of spoken language processing assume that variation due to differences among talkers is discarded by the listener during speech perception. The end product of this normalization process is assumed to be a series of abstract, context-free linguistic units. In contrast, alternative accounts propose that listeners contend with variability by retaining specific aspects of each talker's voice. Retaining rather than discarding these perceptual properties of speech enables listeners to customize their perceptual processing for each individual talker. The purpose of the proposed research is to investigate how listeners perceptually adapt over time to specific non-linguistic characteristics of talkers'voices. Studies are proposedthat examine how listeners adapt to variation introduced by individual talkers'voices and to systematic variation introduced by accentedness. A voice-learning paradigm in which listeners are familiarized with non-linguistic properties of speechover several days of training will be used to compare and contrast the processes involved in talker-specific and accent-general perceptual compensation. The experiments will address the general hypothesis that perception learning of """"""""nonlinguistic"""""""" dimensions of spoken language can change the nature of linguistic representation and processing. Given the diversity and variety of conversational partners that are typically encountered in today's society, research designed to evaluate how listeners cope with differences in speaking style and accent becomes imperative. Investigating the process by which listeners accommodate perceptually to differences among speakers, as well as to synthetic and pathological speech, will have important implications for maximizing effective spoken communication in work and learning environments.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01DC008108-05
Application #
7991358
Study Section
Language and Communication Study Section (LCOM)
Program Officer
Shekim, Lana O
Project Start
2006-12-05
Project End
2012-11-30
Budget Start
2010-12-01
Budget End
2012-11-30
Support Year
5
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$215,266
Indirect Cost
Name
Emory University
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
066469933
City
Atlanta
State
GA
Country
United States
Zip Code
30322
Tzeng, Christina Y; Alexander, Jessica E D; Sidaras, Sabrina K et al. (2016) The role of training structure in perceptual learning of accented speech. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 42:1793-1805
Reinisch, Eva; Jesse, Alexandra; Nygaard, Lynne C (2013) Tone of voice guides word learning in informative referential contexts. Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 66:1227-40
Heaton, Hayley; Nygaard, Lynne C (2011) Charm or Harm: Effect of Passage Content on Listener Attitudes toward American English Accents. J Lang Soc Psychol 30:202-211
Sidaras, Sabrina K; Alexander, Jessica E D; Nygaard, Lynne C (2009) Perceptual learning of systematic variation in Spanish-accented speech. J Acoust Soc Am 125:3306-16